Thursday, January 10, 2013

William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the Episcopal Church remembers one of the Archbishops of Canterbury, William Laud, who served as archbishop under King Charles I, and who died at the hands of the Puritans in 1645. 

Laud was born on the 7th of October 1573 in Reading.  His father was a cloth merchant.  Laud went to university at St. John’s College in Oxford and he was ordained a priest in 1601.  He was a defender of apostolic succession. 

In 1630, Laud was elected as Chancellor of the University of Oxford and became much more closely involved in the running of the university than many of his predecessors had been. Laud was instrumental in establishing Oxford's Chair of Arabic and took an interest in acquiring Arabic manuscripts for the Bodleian Library. His most significant contribution was the creation of a new set of statutes for the university, a task completed in 1636. Laud served as the fifth Chancellor of the University of Dublin between 1633 and 1645.

Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury when he was 60 years old.  Laud brought an end to reforms within the Church which he believed had already gone too far by the early 1630s. This approach angered the Puritans who believed that Laud was too Catholic in his approach. Laud’s instruction that wooden communion tables should be replaced with stone altars infuriated Puritans who say this as being a blatant move towards Catholicism.  Laud’s main priority was “decent order” and unity within the Church. He described Puritanism as a “wolf held by the ears” and he believed that their very existence threatened the stability of the Church.

Ultimately Laud paid for his beliefs with his life.  He was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. Laud was put on trial for trying to subvert the laws of England and endangering the Protestant faith. These charges were never proved so Parliament introduced a Bill of Attainder to prosecute Laud. He was beheaded at Tower Hill on this day in 1645.  At the scaffold, Laud prayed:  "The Lord receive my soul, and have mercy on me, and bless this kingdom with peace and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them." 

Let us pray:  Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant William Laud, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


17 January 2013: Seaside Seniors at St. Augustine.

21 January 2013: MLK Day at St. Vincent’s House: Noon day prayers and celebration.

Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially Robert Hacker’s mother and family, Lee Runion and Randy Furlong.

Your servant in Christ,

The Rev. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550


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