Thomas Cranmer vs. Columba

The Round of the Saintly Sixteen continues with a match-up between two heavyweights from the British Isles. Thomas Cranmer and Columba -- the "Killer C's" -- face off against one another for a trip to the Elate Eight. Only one will advance to the next round in this the fourth of eight battles comprising the current round while the other will be left to "gather up the crumbs under thy table."

Yesterday, in a battle that ostensibly took place on the vast plains in the middle of the United States, but really happened on your respective electronic devices, Enmegahbowh knocked out David Pendleton Oakerhater 54% to 46%. He joins Mary Magdalene and Jerome among those who have earned a spot in the Elate Eight. Check the updated bracket to see the big picture of Lent Madness (metaphorically speaking -- there's not actually a mural depicting Scott and Tim).

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), architect of the English Reformation, was eventually arrested and tried for heresy. Weakened, broken, and sentenced to be burned at the stake, Cranmer recanted his Protestant beliefs. However, from the pulpit of the University Church in Oxford, he dramatically reversed himself and testified to those beliefs on the day of his execution, March 21, 1556.

Before Cranmer’s last sermon, there was a different sermon by Henry Cole. It was Cole’s unenviable task to explain to the crowd why someone arrested for heresy, who subsequently repented, should still be burned at the stake. Diarmaid MacCullouch’s award-winning biography of Cranmer describes this as “a problem in canon law which Cole had little choice but to acknowledge openly.”

The awkwardness was resolved when Cranmer recanted his earlier recantations. After the fire that would take his life was lit, Cranmer stretched out his right hand into it. This fulfilled a promise that he had made in the church: “forasmuch as my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished there-for.” At the stake, he repeated the last words of the first martyr, Stephen: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit . . . I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

It’s the language of common prayer, however, for which Cranmer will always be most remembered. This general confession from 1552 is based on Romans 7:8-25 and includes allusions to Isaiah 53:6; Psalm 119:176; I Peter 2:25; Psalm 51:13; Romans 15:8; I John 2:12; Titus 2:11-12; and John 14:13:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways, like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us: but thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that be penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

 -- Neil Alan Willard

Dear Columba (521-597) may be adored by Christians for founding monasteries in Derry and Durrow in Ireland – and, of course, in iconic Iona in Scotland - but he is also beloved by those of another faith tradition for his little known work in the Scottish highlands.

In 563 Columba traveled to Iona with 12 companions to set up home base for the conversion of the native Picts and Scots. During his 32 years there, serving as abbot and preaching the Christian faith to the locals (including baptizing the kings of both the Picts and Scots), he traveled widely, making a famous trip to Loch Ness.

Legend says Columba came across a group of Picts burying one of their friends. The saint was told the man had been killed by none other than the Loch Ness monster.

Soon after, another Pict decided to brave those very waters and, in Columba’s presence, became endangered when the monster made yet another eerie appearance. Columba, staff in hand, hastily made the sign of the cross as he commanded the monster, “Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.” At this point, the monster fled, terrified - leaving the assembled Picts amazed. In fact, all who gathered there immediately glorified Columba’s God.

This account, according to many of the Nessie faithful is regarded as the very first appearance in history of the famed monster. The sightings, of course, would continue to be recorded through the ages by such unbiased observers as local hotel and restaurant owners and other members of the Loch Ness Chamber of Commerce.

-- Chris Yaw


Thomas Cranmer vs. Columba

  • Thomas Cranmer (60%, 961 Votes)
  • Columba (41%, 656 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,615

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84 comments on “Thomas Cranmer vs. Columba”

  1. Sweet Columba, Colum Cille, you are our favorite, inspiration of young Princeton Seminary converts. Vote Columba!

  2. Cranmer all the way. We still say this every Sunday: "...We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done..." or words to that effect. He was responsible for some of my most loved bits of the BCP.

    1. Then again, anyone who has NOT left undone anything that ought to have been done, nor DONE anything that ought not to have been done . . . please feel free to vote for Columba without the slightest fear of being cast into the darkness for all of eternity 😉

      1. Or just vote for Columba because this is Lent Madness and we had a completely unexpected (by this seminarian) cameo by "Ol' Nessie!"

  3. I love Cranmer, no doubt; his was an incredible contribution. But this one came down to evangelization in Ireland and Scotland, so: Go Columba! ~ and yes, I'm a wee bit Irish. 🙂

  4. Thomas Cranmer has my vote today; his words still find new believers
    in our days. He shines across the years as a man of faith leading us to a
    new belief in a God of love.

  5. Anticipating events later in the week,
    I have it on good authority (and let's just say it was a long distance call)
    Pastor Bonhoeffer has offered to accompany Brigid at the piano.
    Herself, a very neat Slip Jig to victory.

  6. I fear this competition is going to cost me a couple pints. I'll settle up by Low Sunday, Bob.

  7. I'm still grieving the loss of a fellow Human Being and Deacon David Oakerhater (maybe , so with all respect to Princton Seminary alumni, I have to go with a better story than the Loch Ness monster - it would be a thing which we ought not ot have done. Thomas gets my vote.

  8. I wish I could vote for both,but it will be Columba that gets my vote.
    Why do you have to make it so hard to choose?

  9. For my beloved BCP, Cranmer all the way! He wrote the most common wedding vows still used today--and not just by Anglicans/Episcopalians--he has transcended into the secular world too.


  10. Much as I love Columba and look forward to going to Iona later this year, I have to go with Cranmer. Why have you left out his other words from the stake when he turned to Bishop Nicholas Ridley,also being burned for heresy and said "Be of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out" or are you saving it for the next round? What a guy!

  11. Loved the Nessie story but it seems that Canmer inspired several other saints to become saints with his words in our Prayer Book so he gets my vote.

  12. As much as I love the music of Iona, and in spite of my aforestated Celtic affinity (when I voted for Columba in Round 1), BCP trumps Nessie. Sure, Thomas Cranmer had his faults, but, . . . . what Lauren and Barbara said!

  13. Cranmer had me at "miserable offenders" (I still want to say it when that confession shows up in Evensong!), and I think Neil's is the better writeup by far (come on, Chris, do better than Nessie when you get another chance to advocate), but The Dove of the Church is my guy. Awful choice to make!

  14. The heart outtrumps intellect here. I mean come one, we've got a story with Nessie! Besides, I'm Irish/Scots. Columba has my vote, although my head is not convinced that Cranmer shouldn't have gotten it.

  15. I pray the confession daily. There is such beauty and comfort in it. Certainly the author of the BoCP gets this one. Brave martyr. Vote Cranmer (the last Thomas standing).

  16. To me its no contest between the beauty & endurance of Cramner's words in the BCP and indeed the whole concept of a book of common prayer either because of or in spite of his flaws as a human being vs. the allure that comes with myth and legend.

  17. Cranmer, Cranmer
    He's our man
    Vote for him
    As quick as you can

    Besides Columba made all the women leave Iona while his monks were there.

  18. It was Latimer who said “Be of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out”.....

  19. To write the General Confession and then die for the Faith? Cranmer all the way !!!!!

  20. (But, I vote for Cranmer this round anyway, in a respectful nod to his Book of Common Prayer....)

  21. Columba, Columba, Columba all the way! I do regret, however, that he chased away Nessie; I would have liked to see him.

  22. Cranmer, Cranmer, he's our man, But what he can't, COLUMBA CAN! Rock the Vote for the Irish and Scots who have bravely resisted Anglish monarchs long before Cranmer felt the heat!

  23. Cranmer was martyred on the March 21, the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), another candidate for sainthood.

  24. I stand corrected,buty vote still goes to Cranmer and The Book of Common Prayer. Perhaps Later next year?