I have just finished re-reading Professor Eamon Duffy's outstanding book, "the Voices of Morebath".
The tiny Devon village of Morebath had the same parish priest for fifty years, covering the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Sir Christopher Trychay served his parish faithfully throughout enormous religious upheaval, and documented his parish's life meticulously.
It makes for absorbing reading, but also for so much sadness, seeing what remanants of Orthodoxy remaining within late mediaeval Roman Catholicism being systematically stripped out of the newly formed Ecclesia Anglicana. It must have caused immense sadness and distress to so very many people in the village.
Not even the church Bells were allowed to be tolled at deaths and funerals. Newborn infants, normally baptised on the day of birth or the next day, in an era when infant mortality was in excess of 30%, were now to be left unbaptised till the next public Sunday service, if they survived that long. Imagine the anxiety of not knowing whether your premature or feeble infant would survive to see Holy Baptism, even now........let alone in those days when the belief was that the unbaptised were excluded from Heaven.
I can only guess at what it must have been like to see the churches altered, frescoes defaced or whitewashed, the statues burnt, the vestments discarded, and the services altered beyond all recognition within such a short space of time.
Imagine if our Churches were defaced and despoiled in this way nowadays, on the whim of a monarch or civil authority, and we were powerless to stop it.
Imagine being forced to attend services which bore no resemblance to those we know and love so much, to no longer be able to ask the Communion of Saints for their loving intercession......... it makes my stomach churn, just thinking about it, let alone having to live through it, to be honest.