Lent Madness: William Tyndale vs. Elizabeth of Hungary

Today’s matchup features the first of five female saints who made it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. As a whole, the ladies are faring very well in this year’s Lent Madness as Monnica was the only woman to falter in the initial round (to C.S. Lewis).

In recent action VIncent held off a late charge by Charles Simeon to win 53% to 47%. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket. On to Quirks and Quotes!

William Tyndale was the early 16th century Bible scholar and translator who was martyred for translating Holy Scripture into English. One estimate suggests that the King James Version relied heavily on Tyndale’s work, making up 83% of the New Testament and 76% of the Old Testament. Tyndale was driven by the conviction that the way to God was through God’s word and thus God’s Word should be made available in the native language of the common man.

John Foxe, of the popular Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563), reports the following conversation between Tyndale and a “learned” but “blasphemous” clergyman, who had proclaimed to Tyndale that, “We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.” To which Tyndale passionately responded: “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!”

Learning that King Henry VIII was firmly against translating Scripture into the vernacular, Tyndale fled under an assumed name to Hamburg where he met with Martin Luther. By this time a wanted man, Tyndale travelled from town to town while completing his English translation. The printing was done in Worms and copies of his New Testament were smuggled into England where it was roundly condemned by the Church. Cardinal Wolsey demanded Tyndale’s arrest as a heretic and Tyndale went into hiding to continue his work.

Eventually an English spy named Henry Phillips betrayed Tyndale and he was arrested, imprisoned, tried, and convicted of heresy in 1536. Condemned to burn at the stake, he was mercifully strangled before the fire was lit but not until he had uttered his famous last words: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

We’ll end with a quote from Tyndale: “All that is between God and man in the scripture is for man’s necessity, and not for any need that God hath thereof. And other spiritual profit can none have by that faith in the sacrament, than to be taught thereby to believe in Christ our Savior, and to do good to his neighbor.”

Elizabeth of Hungary was a 13th century German princess who relinquished her wealth to serve the poor and build hospitals. She is remembered as a model of Christian charity who died at the age of 24. Married at 14, she was widowed at 20 and it was at this time that she dedicated her life to Christ’s service. Her vow of celibacy and refusal to remarry did not serve her family’s interests and they were furious. She was more or less imprisoned in her uncle’s Bavarian castle — himself a bishop — in an effort to force her to remarry. Elizabeth, however, kept true to her promise going so far as threatening to cut off her own nose so that no man would want to marry her.

The best-known legend about Elizabeth is referred to as the Miracle of the Roses. As she was secretly taking bread to the poor, her husband asked what was in her pouch. She opened it and the bread turned to roses. She is, among other things, considered the patron saint of bakers, hospitals, and hoboes.

The following quote is attributed to Elizabeth: “How could I bear a crown of gold when the Lord bears a crown of thorns? And bears it for me!”


One Comment on “Lent Madness: William Tyndale vs. Elizabeth of Hungary”

  1. Bob Chapman says:

    O Christ, the Word Incarnate, O Wisdom from on high,
    O Truth, unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky;
    we praise thee for the radiance that from the scripture’s page,
    a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.

    Vote Tyndale.

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