St Bartholomew’s Day & 10 Things I Love About Protestants

Yesterday was St Bartholomew’s Day and 440 years since the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, where between 5,000 and 30,000 French Protestants (also known as Huguenots) were murdered, both in targeted political assassinations and general mob brutality.

Francois Dubois, St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, 1572-84 (Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne)

Wikipedia tells us that the massacre,

Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de Medici, the mother of King Charles IX… took place six days after the wedding of the king’s sister Marguerite to the Protestant royal, Henry III of Navarre, … for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began on 23 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Colginy, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre expanded outward to other urban centres and the countryside.

The massacre was the usual compound of religious fanaticism, political intrigue and a bad harvest. It was also truly horrific as people were dragged from their beds at dawn and the marriage festivities turned into orgies of slaughter.

It was the worst massacre in a century of religious violence between Protestants and Catholics.

The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August 1572, Trustees of The British Museum

If being part of the Body of Christ means we share each others joys and burdens, then in a way, we also share each others sins.

And if we believe the Gospel, then the same violence which lead these Catholics to slaughter Protestants one August is the same violence that is in our hearts, whether we are Catholic, Protestant or something else entirely. It’s the same attitude that says, “because you are different, you are Other, because you are Other, you are both less than human; because you are less than human, you are disposable but because you are more than animal, you are dangerous. You are wicked. You are monstrous. You are Other.”

“You have heard it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother of sister will be subject to judgment.

Matthew 5:21-22.

Jusepe de Ribera, The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew, 1628-30 (Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence)

Me and the Catholic Church are on our honeymoon at the moment. I think She’s pretty awesome and I can’t stop talking about Her. And I think that sometimes I have veered into contempt for my ex: Protestantism. Well, not contempt as such but just doing a little sneering and feeling a little superior.

Like I’m better than them.

I confess to Almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.

I don’t know whether it has come across in what I have written. I suspect it has a bit.

Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

But I want nothing to do with it. I love my Protestant brothers and sisters.

Therefore I ask Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

And so in reparation (such a Catholic thing but we’ll deal with that later!), I give you…

10 Things I Love About Protestants

1. I love that Protestants aren’t afraid to try new things, stretch new boundaries and make a general nuisance of themselves for the sake of Christ.

2. I love that Protestants who say they are Christians (at least in Sydney) probably do love Christ and seek to follow Him in their daily life. When a Catholic says they’re Catholic, all I can really be sure of is that they don’t not-believe in God enough to call themselves an Atheist.

3. I love that Protestants will straight-up ask, “how are things with you and the Lord?”

4. I love that Protestants know, love and treasure the Bible. So much that I can have whole conversations with Protestant which consist solely of bible references…

“Hey sister, are you Hebrewing 10:25 tonight?”

“Sure am! I know I need to get into/sit under/get fed by the Word. You?”

“Yeah but I’m on tuba again. Romans 7:15. Plus, I need a lift…

“Well 1 Corinthians 16:5! And we can go together.”

“Oh, 2 Corinthians 9:15!”

[Above conversation may not have actually transpired.]

5. I love that Protestants are serious about sin and want to grow in holiness.

6. I love that Protestants have given the world Amazing Grace, the Salvos, Charles Spurgeon, freedom of religion, Martin Luther King Jr., Charismatics, John Stott, John Donne, the abolition of slavery, the Book of Common Prayer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Purtians, the ecumenical movement, World Vision, gospel music, Tim Keller, Quakers, and not just one Wesley, but two!

7. I love that Protestants are some of my closest, dearest and most splendidest friends.

8. I love that Protestants have the best church suppers. (Based on my representative sample of about four churches…)

9. I love that Protestants encourage you to fearlessly follow where God is leading. Sure, they may have a three-hour debate on transubstantiation with you and tell you why you’re wrong but when it comes down to it, they know that you – like them – can only go where He calls.

10. Which is why, most of all, I love that Protestants love Jesus.

May almighty God have mercy on me, forgive me my sins, and bring me to everlasting life.

This last picture is more of a prayer than any real depiction of what happen that St Bartholomew’s Day. It’s A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge, the white armband that his lover has tied on. You can see that they love each other but he will be loyal to who he is and what he believes… regardless of the consequences.

He will follow Christ whether it means ridicule, division, loneliness, scorn, suffering or death.

With grace and gentleness, and sure trust in God’s providence.

This, I believe, is Protestantism’s greatest strength.

I love y’all!

John Everett Millais, A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day, 1852


13 responses to “St Bartholomew’s Day & 10 Things I Love About Protestants

  1. And I love that you mentioned the Wesleys. It warms the heart of this Anglo-Catholic Methodist. Please ask me about my mental gymnastics sometime! 😉 It’s always good to take a moment and be thankful for the unexpected voices that God uses to help us all grow in holiness and wisdom.

    • Haha, I love the Wesleys! And actually, I can easily understand being an Anglo-Catholic Methodist (but this is coming from a sefl-described Socialist/Royalist!). I think Wesleyan theology, particularly in regards to free will and grace and the Wesleyan quadrilateral actually fit quite nicely with a more Catholic theology. How do you see them fitting together?

      • I see Wesley as perhaps being a great bridge between East and West when it comes to theology. Wesley was certainly as well-versed in the major theologians of both East and West as a person could be in 18th-century England. He was good friends for a while with an Eastern Orthodox bishop. And a Methodist legend has it that Wesley was ordained bishop by this Orthodox bishop, but this is likely wishful thinking. At the very least it takes more than one bishop to ordain another bishop (I think it takes three).
        John Wesley also believed that Mary remained a virgin her entire life (good luck finding very many Methodists that ascribe to that these days!) He also took the Eucharist at LEAST three times a week and refused to ordain anyone who didn’t participate in the Eucharist at least once a week. I think Wesley was also positively Franciscan when it came to possessions. When he died the only money he personally owned was what was in his wallet. He also stipulated that his coffin’s shroud should be cut into pieces and made into clothes for the poor.
        At the same time I think Wesley was something of a prophet to church people who were a bit too comfortable with just “the way things were.” Along with other Anglo-Catholics, John Wesley went out to where those most in need were living and working. And it’s important to remember that of course the Eucharist was an important part of going out to those in need. So I guess again in that respect Wesley is somewhat Franciscan. They both took to heart the “go” part of the Great Commission.
        Of course there are those things that Wesley said and wrote against Catholics. I can’t (and won’t) try to deny that. I think Wesley was just very much a product of his times. At the same time, he was on friendly terms with particular Catholics and sought common understanding where there was common understanding. And we should remember that Wesley also wrote and spoke the same way about many people in the Church of England too. His overwhelming concern was on a “living relationship” with God rather than simply following the mere forms of religion with no inward change in the individual.
        Then of course there’s Wesley’s “peculiar doctrine” of perfection. Many scholars have already noted how much this has in common with the theological idea of “theosis” that is expressed by Catholic and Orthodox thinkers and (to my knowledge) not a single other Protestant thinker.
        Anyway, those are just some of the similarities off the top of my head.

  2. Pingback: John Wesley: Building a Bridge Between East and West? « crossingthebosporus·

  3. Your choice of pictures are always really lovely, this:John Everett Millais, A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day, 1852- made the Huguenots’s seem like real heroes

    • Thanks! That’s the power of art isn’t it? I think the Huguenots were heroes of sorts. I don’t agree with them of course but my heart always goes out the underdogs, which they were always in France. Then many of them moved to London and Amsterdam, an exodus some historians blamed for France’s economic woes prior to and partly causing the Revolution. So maybe they had their revenge! 😉

  4. Pingback: Happy Halfversary! | CATHOLIC CRAVINGS·

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