Lent Madness: William Laud vs. Fabian

Today we get two martyrs who lived 1,400 years apart in the penultimate matchup of the first round. The winner will take on C.S. Lewis in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen.

In recent action Basil defeated John Henry Hobart 68% to 32% thus dashing the hopes of all General Theological Seminary graduates (though as an aside, they could use some humility). Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket. 

William Laud (1573-1645) served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. This period was fraught with division both within the Church of England and the nation itself and eventually led to the English Civil War. But to take a step back, Laud was ordained in 1601 and soon gained a reputation for his intellectual brilliance and high church tendencies. While his endorsement of apostolic succession was anathema to the growing Puritan wing of the church, Laud quickly rose through the ecclesiastical ranks. He served as a parish priest, president of St. John’s college, Bishop of London, and eventually Archbishop of Canterbury.

To Laud, his policies as archbishop sought uniformity of worship but to those who disagreed with him it was persecution. He took seriously his role as defender of the faith and worked actively to quell any perceived threat to the peace and unity of the Church. This was difficult in a time of increasing ecclesiastical tension and Laud prosecuted anyone, rich or poor, who disagreed with Church policy as he saw it.

In 1640 he was accused of treason, kept in the Tower of London for four years, and tried in 1644. Though the charges were murky at best, he was sentenced to death when he was 71-years-old. On the scaffold he 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.”  

Collect for William Laud 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. Amen.

Fabian was a third century bishop and martyr of Rome. After the death of the Bishop Antherus in 236, a council was convened in Rome to elect his successor. Fabian was amid a large crowd as the proceedings went on. In the middle of the conversation a dove flew into the building and perched atop Fabian’s head. This was deemed a sign and Fabian was unanimously elected Bishop of Rome. He turned out to be an excellent leader and administrator. Among his accomplishments, he organized the city into parishes and appointed scholars to record the lives of the martyrs and put together rites for honoring them.

When the Emperor Decius began persecuting Christians in 239 (likely the first systematic persecution throughout the Empire) Fabian was arrested and brutally executed. By his courageous example he inspired thousands of other martyrs who would soon follow him. His tombstone in Rome still exists — barely visible — with the words “Fabian…Bishop…Martyr.”

Collect for Fabian Almighty God, you called Fabian to be a faithful pastor and servant of your people, and to lay down his life in witness to your Son: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and aided by his prayers, may in times of trial and persecution remain steadfast in faith and endurance, for the sake of him who laid down his life for us all, Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



5 Comments on “Lent Madness: William Laud vs. Fabian”

  1. The Virtual Abbey says:

    I’m voting for Fabian because of his comb. And I’m going to guess that very few, if any, of your readers get the cultural reference.

  2. Bob Chapman says:

    Isn’t this the Fabian everyone thinks of first?

    Actually, Laud has his tie-in with a comb, too (near the end of this video).

    Because of my good Christian education whilst growing up, there can only be one choice for me today:

    Glory, Laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
    this through countless ages men and angels sing.

  3. commcanon says:

    Our diocesan camp, Camp Bishopswood in Hope, Maine, has a cabin named after him. Beat that…Fabian!

  4. Vicki says:

    If Fabian was created Bishop of Rome, doesn’t that make him one of the early Popes?

  5. Father Tim says:

    Vicki — yup, sure does.

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