J. Robert Wright on King Charles the Martyr

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Professor J. Robert Wright has published an essay on the history and liturgical commemoration of King Charles the Martyr in the latest issue of SKCM News, an international publication of the American Region of The Society of King Charles the Martyr, a scholarly and devotional society. Founded in 1894, the Society comprises ecumenical members dedicated to promoting recognition of the contributions of King Charles I to the apostolic Christian faith and his defense of the Historic Episcopate. The Society also encourages wider observance of his feast day on January 30, the date of his martyrdom in 1649.

The background to Prof. Wright's article was his analysis of the ordinance of the Long Parliament of 1645 and the Directory for Public Worship of that year which abolished the Book of Common Prayer and the threefold ministry in the Church of England, as well as the keeping of holy days and even Christmas. Based on original manuscript research into the response of King Charles to that Directory, which threatened to destroy the liturgical and episcopal character of Anglicanism, Prof. Wright's article concluded that Charles I "gave his life as a martyr for classical Anglican identity, for Anglican Orders, for Anglican spirituality, for Anglican polity, for Anglican mission — for the Anglican understanding of the implications of the Gospel."  Charles died "pointing to the Lord," said Wright, "to the Gospel, to the apostolic and catholic tradition that Anglicans have received and still try, in our own very different world, to proclaim."  That bleak period of Anglican history, Wright observed, finally ended with the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.