The Vicar on Henry VIII


Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.

I hear what you are saying Nigel, and I simply don’t agree. I believe the newspapers are being quite naughty in saying that Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned King Henry VIII to hell. How could the Archbishop say such a thing? It is impossible, after all, King Henry VIII is actually the founder of our church. It must have been some sort of misunderstanding. I’m sure they’re twisting his words. I believe the Archbishop was giving a talk at a Roman Catholic Church…some sort of an ecumenical adventure I think, and perhaps it was a slip of the tongue. Besides, I’m told by an old school chum who works on the papers that this fellow Howse who wrote the article is a Roman Catholic.

I’ll have to ask Mrs. Vicar. She’s becoming quite the expert on this sort of thing. Her Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Hawkins is a good sort, and I’m sure he’ll be able to explain it to her. But let’s get a couple of things perfectly clear. Henry VIII was certainly a man’s man. We have to admit that he was not averse to the sight of a pretty skirt around the palace, but in those days people were much more accepting of that sort of thing. Why, everyone knows that the Roman Catholic popes had plenty of mistresses in their papal apartments. It doesn’t make it right, mind you, but when everyone was doing it, it is easier to understand. Added to that, the historians inform us that Queen Catherine of Aragorn was reputed to be part elf, part human, and that she was probably one of the ‘immortal ones’. This means her marriage to King Henry was almost certainly invalid even by the standards of the Roman Catholic Church.

You tell me that the Archbishop said King Henry VIII was in hell, but apart from his mishaps with the ladies he was actually a jolly good king. He kept an eye on the thieving Spanish and the untrustworthy French. He didn’t take any nonsense from that Italian Pope in Rome, and when it comes to the church, why even the Pope himself called King Henry the ‘Defender of the Faith.’ This proves that the man was a good Anglican through and through.

What he actually did was to clean up the church. You see, the Church had become very corrupt and rich. Lots of fat monks sitting around all day doing nothing but praying and going to very good dinners. The nuns were sitting pretty on huge investments and doing nothing but gossiping and doing needlework. Henry VIII came along and cleaned up all that. He used the money for the poor and set up colleges to educate young men at Oxford.

This is why we say that the Church of England is the Reformed Catholic Church in England. It’s just the same Catholic Church as it always was Nigel, but Henry VIII cleaned it up. This wasn’t such a new thing. After all, the Christian Church in England existed from the earliest days quite independently from the Roman Catholic Church. James of Arimathea came here as a tin trader and set up the first church in Glastonbury where he established the Glastonbury Thornbird–a red bird that still flies across the shores of Avalon on Midsummer Eve until he reaches the mystical circle of Stonehenge.

This is fascinating stuff my dear fellows. Perhaps you don’t know that this Celtic Church was kept going by monks from Ethiopia. Carvings in Coptic churches in Africa actually have the same scroll work that you find in manuscripts in Ireland. Proof that the Coptic Christians established Christianity in these islands independently from the Pope in Rome. They existed like this for six centuries until St Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory to ‘convert’ the English. My dear fellows, we were already Christian! We just weren’t Roman Catholics.

I seem to have gotten a bit off track. Clearly, if the Archbishop has said such a thing, he has seriously come a cropper. Henry VIII is our founder and the Queen still holds the ancient title”Defender of the Faith” and a good thing it is too, better that she keeps things going that this rather dodgy Welshman. He needs a good barber if you ask me…

  • Just another mad Catholic

    The vicar needs a history lesson

  • Diamantina da Brescia

    "Catherine of Aragorn" deserves a huzzah in itself! :-) Interesting that the Vicar wrote on the 474th anniversary of the execution of Anne Boleyn. Was the Vicar aware of that, Father?

  • shadowlands

    I downloaded the book by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori – Preparation for Death, and was reading the chapter on hell. I am getting a bit obsessed with the horrific thought of any soul being there for ever and ever and ever. It has troubled me before,and I have to find some balance. I don't know how any man can speak of another man's soul as being in hell, if he has ever really contemplated hell. For the Archbishop to say this, is incredible to me, unless, as the Vicar suggests, it was a throw away comment. I wonder how Henry V111 mother feels, if she is in heaven. That's what scares me the most, my children's souls. Sorry for getting heavy Father, my mind is well overwhelmed at the moment.

  • Athanasius contra mundum

    I never heard the Joseph of Arimathea or Coptic missionaries traditions. Is there anything more to them?

  • Kellen

    Athanasius -I'm not familiar with the legends themselves, but I've heard very similar stuff from some Orthodox convert types who like to make arguments about how Britain was actually Orthodox before those evil French Papists messed things up at Hastings.

  • StevieD

    Henry took the wise (and hopefully sufficient) precaution of bequeathing a sum for the foundation of a home for the elderly in the west of Ireland (where he was aware the 'Old Religion' was still practised). This was done on condition that the inmates prayed for his soul each night, and they do so to this day.

  • Belfry Bat

    Shadowlands: If Henry VIII were in hell, and his mother in Heaven, she praises God in His justice.I hope H VIII is in purgatory, and may be released in a thousand years or so.

  • doctoreric

    Not only did the good vicar get some historical data wrong, he didn't even get the names right!

  • Suburbanbanshee

    That was the vicar's sense of history after having several pints of some really really good beer.Hilarious, though! A lot of those do have a basis, or at least an excuse, in history. It's just not interpreted too well.