Mrs Prest’s Heavenly Husband
When Foxe, through the testimony of Prest’s wife, articulates the reason for her abandonment of her husband, he does so using the language of heavenly marriage: Prest is married to Christ — not in martyrdom itself so much as in election — and thus she necessarily rejects the things of the world, including earthly authority — ecclesiastical, legal and marital. Persecuted in one city — her earthly marriage — she leaves it for another — heavenly marriage — in the process rejecting as well such mundane realities as carnality, flesh, human or feminine weakness and familial obligation. She describes the things she rejects through reference to their relationship to nature, flesh and the world. The husband she has abandoned is ‘earthly’, the life she has given up is ‘carnall’ and her children are ‘mortal’. Her wisdom seems foolishness to ‘carnall men of this world’. She, whose ‘one husband’ is already with her in ‘this Citie’, has been chosen by God, elected to a status of the spirit, transcending nature, above even gender — an earthly construct — and the social restraints that accompany it. For Foxe’s women martyrs to forsake the things of the world, including the traditional obligations of their sex, even disassociating themselves from their familial responsibilities, is to act in a positive manner, proving themselves members of the heavenly city, the invisible church, as brides of Christ.
KeywordsCatholic Church Familial Obligation Exemplary Behaviour White Shirt Mundane Reality
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