February 4, 1555
John Rogers becomes the first of many martyrs under Mary I
Rogers had been a Catholic priest, but he disagreed certain views within the Church, so he left England to Holland. Once in Holland, he met a Protestant reformer and converted to Protestant views. During this time he also met and married his wife.
Rogers left Holland to go back to his homeland, shortly before the death of King Edward VI, which placed Mary I, a Roman Catholic, on the throne.
An attack upon a Bishop appointed by the Queen prompted the end of Rogers. Rogers had, in fact, helped calm the crowd and protected the Bishop. However, the Mayor ruling over the town in which the attack happened was heavily criticized by the Crown for not keeping his people in check, and Rogers was arrested to make an example.
During his arrest which lasted over a year, Rogers was given several chances to renounce his faith and return to his previous position as a Catholic priest, but refused. When he knew his death was imminent, he asked to see his wife to say goodbye but was denied, being hold his marriage was invalid as a Priest cannot be married.
As he walked to the stake which he would be burned, he passed by his wife who held their infant child whom he had never met until this point. Their other children were present as well, who, according to a French ambassador, were “comforting him in such a manner that it seemed as if he had been led to a wedding.”
Rogers went to his death cheerfully, and reportedly washed his hands in the flames as if he felt no pain.