Katharine Cree & the Lion

I called at the Church of St Katharine Cree in London. Not only has it an unusual name, which probably a corruption and abbreviation of Christchurch, but it was built at the time of Charles I, when few churches were erected in this land. Indeed, the Society of King Charles the Martyr are pleased to associate with it, which seeks to extol that king’s virtues and lament his death. Much as I admire monarchy, and have some sympathy for Charles Stuart the man, his death was a just result of his terrible religious affairs. If Charles was mistaken and unwise in his religious policies, St Katherine Cree is less excused in its to celebrating the life of a genuine renegade, Archbishop Laud, who originally consecrated it. Laud was a vicious and petty-minded man, who sought to undo the Reformation and persecuted puritans with high fines, branded faces and cropped ears. Parliament had him imprisoned, attainted and executed in 1645. The man's portrait hangs above one of the altars; Anglo-Catholics will doubtless venerate him, something Laud would equally doubtless enjoy receiving. Seventeenth-century conflicts aside, the church hosts an annual sermon called the Lion Sermon.

Sir John Gayer (1584 -1649) was Lord Mayor of London and merchant, who became separated from a caravan while travelling on a trading mission in modern-day Syria (he called it Arabia) and was stalked by a lion, which apparently spared him. Sir John attributed this to God’s deliverance, for which he gave sums to charity and endowed this annual sermon in thanks. I understand that a Gayer descendant continues to attend the service, reading the account of Daniel in the lions’ den.

It seems appropriate that King Charles, whose royal arms contained the lions of England and the lion of Scotland, and little Laud whose work for the great roaring lion involved consuming many of his contemporaries, should share a space in this church. Each year, on 16th October at 1pm, the sermon is preached on the theme of 'challenges to the Christian faith'. Whether our faith be challenged by poor government, devious prelates or Satan himself, let us hold fast. If God providentially delivered Sir John, He can also deliver us.

Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions. Psalm 35:17

Save Me from the lion’s mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me. Psalm 22:21

My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. Psalm 57:4, all NKJV.