Martyred by the Catholics: Johannes Erigena of Scotland

2288260777_52fc80b7a5The Martyrs Mirror is now getting into the early Anabaptist “heretic” martyrs, and one of the first tales is that of Johannes Erigena of Scotland, who was murdered by his students. They stabbed him to death with, get this, penknives and awls. Talk about a death of 1,000 cuts. At least Julius Caesar was stabbed to death with proper daggers, not razorblades and ice picks.

Father Erigena, it seems, spent his whole life writing stridently against the silly belief of transubstantiation, the idea that the bread and wine of the Eucharist actually become the incarnate body and blood of Christ. Unfortunately, in the 9th Century, this silliness was Church doctrine. Erigna was forced to flee his university rectory in Paris and hide out at a school in England. After a few years, either the scholars or the monks, depending on which account you read, pricked him to death in a fit of religious fervor.

According to Wikipedia, there is significant doubt as to whether the Johannes who was stabbed to death was the same one who wrote the heretical books. But the Wikipedia account contains a deliciously ironic detail. The Mirror refers to the scholars’ weapons as “penknives,” bringing to mind thin, inchlong blades. Wikipedia states that the scholars used their styli. A stylus is a long spike used to scratch writing into a wax tablet.

Erigena, the scholarly writer, was stabbed to death with pens.

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One Response to “Martyred by the Catholics: Johannes Erigena of Scotland”

  1. Unfortunately, in the 9th Century, this silliness was Church doctrine.

    … and still is.

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