22 October 2012

Rome Killed Women, Too

Photo: Wikimedia
We often hear of the great martyrs of the faith throughout church history. Yet, so often these lists contain primarily the names of men—great, revered men, to whom Christians today owe a great deal. It is important to remember, however, that many women also have died for their faith throughout history. Foxe's Book of Martyrs tells many of these stories, and I share only one of them with you today for your consideration—the story of Mrs. Cicely Ormes:
This young martyr, aged twenty-two, was the wife of Mr. Edmund Ormes, worsted weaver of St. Lawrence, Norwich. At the death of Miller and Elizabeth Cooper, before mentioned, she had said that she would pledge them of the same cup they drank of. For these words she was brought to the chancellor, who would have discharged her upon promising to go to church, and to keep her belief to herself. As she would not consent to this, the chancellor urged that he had shown more lenity to her than any other person, and was unwilling to condemn her, because she was an ignorant foolish woman; to this she replied, (perhaps with more shrewdness than he expected), that, however great his desire might be to spare her sinful flesh, it could not equal her inclination to surrender it up in so great a quarrel. The chancellor then pronounced the fiery sentence, and, September 23, 1557, she was brought to the stake, at eight o'clock in the morning.
After declaring her faith to the people, she laid her hand on the stake, and said, "Welcome thou cross of Christ." Her hand was sooted in doing this, (for it was the same stake at which Miller and Cooper were burnt), and she at first wiped it; but directly after again welcomed and embraced it as the "sweet cross of Christ." After the tormentors had kindled the fire, she said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour." Then crossing her hands upon her breast, and looking upwards with the utmost serenity, she stood the fiery furnace. Her hands continued gradually to rise till the sinews were dried, and then they fell. She uttered no sigh of pain, but yielded her life, an emblem of that celestial paradise in which is the presence of God, blessed for ever.
It might be contended that this martyr voluntarily sought her own death, as the chancellor scarcely exacted any other penance of her than to keep her belief to herself; yet it should seem in this instance as if God had chosen her to be a shining light, for a twelve-month before she was taken, she had recanted; but she was wretched till the chancellor was informed, by letter, that she repented of her recantation from the bottom of her heart. As if to compensate for her former apostasy, and to convince the Catholics that she meant no more to compromise for her personal security, she boldly refused his friendly offer of permitting her to temporize. Her courage in such a cause deserves commendation—the cause of Him who has said, Whoever is ashamed of me on earth, of such will I be ashamed in heaven.
John Foxe. Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Kindle edition (Kindle Locations 5200-5217). 
Further Reading
The Ecumenical Compromise of the Alpha Course
BSF, a "Truly Ecumenical Fellowship"
Muslim Woman Concludes "Islam Is all about Living a Purpose-Driven Life" After Hearing Rick Warren on 'Lifeclass'


  1. Would that I have the same courage and conviction. This is precisely why we must always contend for the faith with grace and power given to us from the Holy Spirit. I fear I live too comfortable a life to bear any resemblance to this dear sister. Solo Deo Gloria!


  2. Very true that women are usually not mentioned as examples. Probably because the majority are men. But then again who knows how many women have been martyred especially in the first century.

    I have that book "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" -great book. My mom gave me a book to read called "Fair Sunshine" which is a character study of Scottish Covenanters. I haven't read much of yet it but it does have a couple of women in there. Margaret MacLachlan and Margaret Wilson.
    I think I'll delve into the book~

  3. Blessed account and of a true believer in such a contrast to so many today's leavenjellycals who not only do not see antything wrong with going to Roman Catholic Church and sit through blasphemous Roman sacrificial mass for family or social reasons but for the most part believe that Roman Catholics are Christians... "Slightly" confused but Christians nevertheless as they are affirmed by the spin doctors of confusion from the stages of their spiritual entertainment centers. Yet that generation of believers as in example of Cicely repeated so many times knew so much more and so much better as she burned alive rather than save her life by just setting her foot in the Roman temple of abominations.

  4. Such serene courage! What an inspiring witness. Refusing to compromise, even just a little, with the penalty of death. Now that is something that few of us face right now.

    It makes me despair of myself and my compromises in things that have the penalty of....what penalty? A nasty look, ridicule, hurting someone's "feelings", risking my career prospects? Somehow, these things seem ridiculously minor compared to the stake and the flames.

    Romans 7:19 "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

    *sigh* Carol

    1. Makes me ashamed when I thought some of the trials in my own life were a big deal..They're nothing compared to what they went through.

      I began to read the book "Fair Sunshine" that I mentioned- one martyr was so thankful even on his dying day. On the morning he was fixing to be executed he got up with joy saying, "This is the day that the LORD has made let us rejoice and be glad in it"

      I think what makes it all so moving is that they never stopped praising God even to their very last breath

      If you ever read the book, I suggest you get a box of kleenex..

  5. I wish I had even just an eighth of the passion these people had for the Lord. How do you become like that? Unfortunately, I feel it's beyond me.


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