England’s Martyr, England’s King

Eikon Basilike

To-day is the anniversary, to the very day, of the martyrdom of King Charles I. This country has seen some very grievous things, from the Papal conquest of 1066 to the dissolution of the monasteries. Among the most grave, and that which shews forth the tragic trajectory of the Reformation, is the trial and execution of God’s anointed Sovereign. Think what you will of Charles; he had his faults, but the forbearance and courage with which he met the insolence and treasonous arrogance of his accusers (who, lest we forget, had real grievances) won him a martyr’s death and a heavenly crown, of worth thrice greater than the tokens taken by Parliament and melted down or sold off. As the inscription upon King Edward’s crown in the Eikon Basilike says, Vanitas. All things passing and perishable. These days it’s tempting for me to think that Charles’ death was in vain; that, while the tyranny of Parliament and of heretics came to an end, it has come back in another guise. But no such death is really in vain and we can put our trust in God that by Charles’ example and in the manner of his death we have in this country a saintly martyr coæval with St Nicholas of Russia, exemplary of right belief and right government in this evil world.

Thou didst not fear the storm of folly and abuse, O Royal Martyr Charles, when thou didst renounce agreement with thine enemies for the destruction of England; and thou didst endure censure, imprisonment, and death, crying to the Almighty: Alleluia.

Eloquent orators, like unto brute beasts, cannot express the height of thy patience; but we, beholding the abyss of our fall, cry out in contrition of spirit:
Rejoice, unvanquishable patience.
Rejoice, unwavering faithfulness to Christ. 
Rejoice, wise teacher of the foolish.
Rejoice, thou who didst give an example to the faithful in thy life and martyr’s death.
Rejoice, thou who didst suffer for the sins of thy people.
Rejoice, O Charles, God-crowned King and Royal Martyr.

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