Elizabeth Barton became a nun at St Sepulchre at approximately age 19. What did a holy servant of the Catholic Church do to defy the Tudor king? She shared the visions sent to her by God.
|Elizabeth Barton prophesying|
19th century woodcut
by Edward Bocking
For years, Sister Elizabeth prophesied and shared her visions without incident. She lived an exemplary life and, with the help of her visions, rebuked those who had failed to repent of their sin and change their ways. She became well-known and popular. The chapel where she had made one of her first prophesies, the Chapel of Our Lady in the Kent village of Court-at-Street, became a pilgrimage site. A printed compilation of her miracles and prophesies was published in 1527 as A Marueilous Woorke. She even had the opportunity to share her visions with Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, and King Henry VIII.
Then (you probably already guessed it), Henry decided to set aside his pious Catholic queen, Katherine of Aragon.
|Chapel of Our Lady, Court-at-Street|
courtesy of historyfish.net
As you can imagine, this did not set well with the King. And Sister Elizabeth did not stop there.
Henry was in Calais in 1532 for peace talks with King Francis. Barton claimed that she was spiritually present as the two kings took communion at the Church of Our Lady. She went on to insist that an angel had held back the sacrament from Henry and given it to Sister Elizabeth instead. In a singularly correct prophesy, Barton stated that Princess Mary would not be denied her birthright. In another, more provocative but less accurate, she insisted that Henry's reign would end within a month should he insist on marrying Anne Boleyn.
For the crime of predicting the death of the king, charges of treason were brought up against Elizabeth Barton. Traditionally, female traitors were burned at the stake, but in an effort to further humiliate and discredit Barton, she was ordered hanged. Sister Elizabeth Barton was executed on April 20, 1534. That same day, Henry's Oath of Succession was required of every London citizen.