Saturday, April 4, 2009

'Exciting discovery' reveals Henry VIII as firm believer in Catholicism

Henry VIII, known as the scourge of the Catholic church, has been revealed as having been a firm believer in the religion he later tried to destroy, thanks to a new discovery.

Roya Nikkhah, Arts Correspondent

A prayer roll once belonging to Henry and inscribed with his own handwriting, has been brought to light ahead of a major new exhibition on his life.

It will be shown in public for the first time at the British Library's exhibition Henry VIII: Man and Monarch, which opens later this month and marks the 500th anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne.

The roll, which is around 13 feet long and 5 inches wide, is made of narrow strips of parchment stitched together.

It bears Henry's official badge of arms and the Tudor rose, and is decorated with a series of illuminations including the Trinity, the Crucifixion and scenes from Christ's Passion.

Under the central image of Christ's Passion is an inscription written by Henry, which reads: "Willyam Thomas, I pray yow pray for me your lovyng master: Prynce Henry."

The roll is also inscribed with Latin prayers and rubrics, or religious instructions, explaining how the devotions are to be performed and what rewards the faithful might expect, such as remission of time in Purgatory and protection against illness.

It is believed that the teenage Henry gave the roll to William Thomas, one of his personal servants in his Privy Chamber, some time between 1505 and 1509, when Henry was the Prince of Wales...


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