28 August 2021

Bishop Grandisson and His Heretic

And the region of Tremur's heresy was one of the solidest Catholic enclaves in England when it rose against the Reformed Church in 1549.

From Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment

Ralph de Tremur, a Cornish-speaking heretic with a distinguished academic record and a fluent tongue, was unimpressed by the newly burnished devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, encouraged by Pope John XXII and brought to Exeter by Bishop Grandisson. Tremur was so off-message as to argue that bread and wine did not turn substantialiter by virtue of the words of consecration into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And he spread his heresies among common, simple folk. Rather vividly, he observed "You are worshipping the work of your own hands! How absurd! What else does a priest do apart from gaping and breathing over a bit of bread!" He was reported to have dramatised his views by secretly carrying off from a church the pyx containing Christ's Body, taking out the Sacrament, and throwing it into the fire. .

Perhaps Tremur should be considered less a precursor of bibliolatrous Reformation Protestantism than of modern Liberalism: he took the view that S Peter was a bad hollow rustic ...

... or did he? I feel tempted, in my wild Enlightenment way, to emend the word (in Grandisson's Register) cavus to calvus ... in which case he was calling the Prince of the Apostles "a nasty old bald peasant"....

He also called S John a lying perjurer. Why? I suspect he had the Eucharistic teaching of John chapter  6 in mind. Grandisson certainly referred to this passage in his own explanation of why Tremur's heresy "undoubtedly and obviously subverts the whole Catholic Faith, empties each of the sacraments individually, and completely destroys the truth of the gospels". 

Did everything end happily for the Bishop, with Grandisson burning Tremur. Sadly, we have no evidence of this. But it is worth noting that in 1549 the Western peasantry were prepared to risk their own deaths for the practice of worshipping the Blessed Sacrament, and demanded that those who opposed this worship should "dye like heretykes against the holy Catholyque fayth". And it is likely that their laudable rebellion was sparked off by Protestant interference during an illegal Corpus Christi celebration at Clyst St Mary in Devon. 

In the two centuries between Grandisson and Cranmer, it was Grandisson's orthodoxy and piety that had entered the devout souls of the people of the English West, God bless and rest them.

And, if Tremur didn't burn, Cranmer did.

1 comment:

  1. Would you argue that Tremur was a member/ leader of the Order of Brothelyngham? Many thanks, Tom Bragge.


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