Waldensian Review No.124 Summer 2014 - Page 9

and condemned by the Inquisition. On 16 September 1560 he was executed by being strangled and then burnt at the stake. His ashes were not collected. There is a plaque commemorating Pascale in the street on the side wall of Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church. He died for his faith. He was a martyr. He bore witness to Christ, preached him and sought to share his love with people. He is still a witness to us of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, to be prepared to take up your cross and follow him. As I look at the plaque, I wonder if I could ever be as faithful and courageous as him. But as I look at the plaque, I also wonder where forgiveness can be found. Pascale opposed the Inquisition and condemned them right up until his death. But surely if he were following his Lord he would also be able to say in his heart, ‘Father, forgive them: they do not know what they are doing’. And even if he could not, or those who wrote up his story in order to strengthen others undergoing persecution could not, surely we must? Just up the road from Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church is the Venerable English College. It was founded as the Hospice of St Thomas in 1362 to care for English pilgrims and visitors. It is the oldest English institution outside England. In 1579 it also became a seminary to train Roman Catholic priests from England and Wales. On 1 December each year (just a few weeks after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Pascale), the College celebrates Martyrs’ Day. That is because, between 1581 and 1679, 44 students of the College were martyred for their faith in England, and another 130 were imprisoned or suffered exile. They bore witness to Christ, preached him and sought to share his love with people. They still bear witness to the students at the College of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, to be prepared to take up your cross and follow him. But again, where can forgiveness be found in all this? At the Martyrs’ Day service there I was feeling very uncomfortable. As a representative of a Protestant Church from England I felt guilty that those who had given their lives as a witness to Christ, as they understood him, had actually been tortured and killed by Protestants who wanted to bear witness to an understanding of Christ that I have inherited. Then I heard the preacher say to the Roman Catholic seminary students that they must always remember that, no matter how many Catholics were martyred for their faith in England, it was nothing like the number of Protestants that had been martyred by the Catholics when they held the power there. And I began to weep. It is not right to kill for your faith, but it is right to be prepared to die for it if necessary. Forgiveness begins when we can acknowledge the faith and spirituality of each other’s martyrs. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II went to a Garden of Remembrance in Dublin in what is now the Republic of Ireland, and laid a wreath at the shrine commemorating those who had given their lives in seeking to gain freedom for the Irish from the British. That act both reflected and sealed the move to peace and reconciliation in both the Republic and in Northern Ireland. 7