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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Martyrs 23a: Francisco San Roman – "suddenly", "our Francisco" – Spanish Lutheran (like an eagle upon the wings of faith)

Francisco San Roman
(depiction from Rabus)
      This continues from Part 22i (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. — Part 23 presents the essay on another Spanish martyr, Francisco San Roman.
      The introduction Fick presents for this martyr was so compelling for me – in the first paragraph describing Francisco's burning love for his Saviour Jesus, "like an eagle upon the wings of faith".  At times I grow tired of translating these works, but then I read on and cannot stop for the beautiful Christian testimonies they bring, and so my faith is strengthened.
      There is an interesting aspect to this history – Francisco had direct contact with Emperor Charles V (a Spaniard) of the Holy Roman Empire.  I have heard other evidence that Charles died in the Lutheran faith, and this story gives further evidence that Charles was not entirely opposed to the Reformation, even though he fought the German princes on the battlefield.  Martin Luther spoke favorably of (and to) Charles as his earthly head, and gave the emperor no reason to chastise him for insubordination.  
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
XXIII. (a)
"This band and iron; this shameful imprisonment before the world, which I now wear and suffer for the glory and confession of my Lord Christ, I regard for great honor and glory in the sight of God."
(San Roman, forged in chains on a wagon, to a former traveling companions.)
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matt. 13:45, 46.  This parable fits surprisingly well for our San Roman.  Hardly had he found his earthly calling as a merchant, so he sacrificed everything of earthly pleasures for the divine truth.  And the Savior as heavenly bride, whom the Church confesses of itself. "I am sick of love," Song of Solomon 2:5 [sic], so his heart glowed full of inflamed love of Jesus, and knew only one goal, only a striving to confess Jesus before the world and to praise Him in life and in death.  So he hurried, like an eagle upon the wings of faith through all the clouds of temporal afflictions inexorably to his sun, his Savior.
Francisco San Roman was descended from a distinguished family at Burgos in Spain, where his parents possessed quite a fortune and due to their virtues and their [page 173] honest, virtuous ways stood in great honor and dignity for much benefit.  Already as a young boy, he was very well known with his countryman Francisco Enzinas [Wikipedia], who has also described his martyrdom to us.  He had not learned any more of Christianity than any other common man usually knows in Spain, namely hearing Mass, auricular confession, perform the penance imposed, and whatever else of a frightful false worship, which are erected as a reproach of the eternal, true God and contrary to the truth of his holy Gospel, for the sake of the monks and their shameful belly filling.  But listen how wonderful the Lord has converted our Francisco.
In 1540 the Spanish merchants in Antwerp decided to send someone to Bremen in order to call in a large sum of money from their debtors.  As they found no one better than Francisco, he was sent there together with another Spaniard. Once there, his curiosity drove him to go into the evangelical Lutheran Church there to find out what they had for religion and ceremonies.  When he came into the church, just the well-known friend of Luther preached, Master Jacobus Praepositus [Jakob Probst or Propst, born as Jacob Spreng], a pious and God-fearing man who was then pastor in Bremen.  Although Francisco could understand only a little German, in that he wanted to hear this sermon to see for himself what was taught in Germany that involved the Germans so much.  But while he listened, he understood not only the whole sermon, but the same moved him so much that he suddenly became a different person.  Awakened by the Spirit of God, he forgot his business for which he was sent, and straightway hurried to the preacher to continue to converse with him about the Word of God.  He was received in all friendliness and taken to the house, where Francisco recited the whole sermon by heart.  But so there would be no doubt about this, Enzinas testified that he had heard this from the lips of the preacher at Bremen.
But Francisco was not satisfied with this one sermon, and urged the minister to explain just a little more clearly the doctrine, of which he had first tasted. [page 174]  The preacher was astonished in the beginning at this urgent request and this outrageous sudden change in San Roman, and warned him that he should act gently and wisely.  He also taught him in all friendliness and diligence in all things which were necessary for him, as he thought necessary to know for his soul’s salvation and blessedness.  So Francisco remained three whole days with the preacher, and would not leave his house because he had in  this time become a completely different person.  He transferred all his business to his companions and went back to the preacher with whom he spent a long time without ceasing in the Word of God.  Day and night he did nothing else than diligently consider the great consolation passages and teachings he had heard from the preacher and took them to heart and sought joy from them.  He also listened devoutly to the sermons, which he not only understood, but also wrote down and showed the pastor when he came home.  Indeed, what is more, he could recite them from memory.  There the preacher recognised that this was a special divine work, because Francisco had come not like other people do, bit by bit to an understanding of the Christian doctrine, but recognized it in a few days, indeed! he also knew how to give account an of it, arose publicly to teach the ignorant, and confessed it before everyone.  In order to promote himself however further to it, he bought and read many German and French books that he could find only in the city, and conversed often with Pastor Praepositus and Dr. Maccabeus, who was staying there.
Above all, he had the conversion of his country at heart. Therefore he wrote several books and a catechism in Spanish, where he taught much of the articles of our faith.  He also wrote several letters to his Spanish compatriots in Antwerp, where he spoke thanks and praise to the eternal God that He brought him to such a place where he had acquired the right, pure, if inscrutable, teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and to convert from their mistaken way if they did not want to be condemned together with their seducing teachers forever.  He mourned the tyranny of the Spanish Inquisition and the blindness of the Spaniards, who did not open their eyes before the bright and gracious light of the holy [page 175] Gospel, and did not want to hear the indisputable Word of God, which was calling them so diligently to repentance and amendment of life.  That's why he intended to come shortly to Antwerp, so that he would share with them a number of spiritual gifts, and especially to open the eyes of his friends.  Then it would be required of him to travel to Spain to bring his parents and his father's town, which was still sunken in abominable popish idolatry and frightful darkness, to the right knowledge of God.
Finally, he also directed two or three letters to Emperor Charles V, in which he lamented the great and pitiful misery of Christendom.  With heartfelt supplication he admonished him because he was ordained by God as the magisterial head of Christendom to act duly according to his office, thereby that he show thanks to the eternal God, from whom he was so graciously gifted, for His unspeakable great blessings, and prove the honor due the high divine Majesty.  But this could not be done more suitably than that he direct with all his might and power, all his actions and conduct, to nurse the resulting discord in Christendom, and have taught faithfully the pure, sincere and true Christian doctrine without any human additions throughout Spain and all his lands.
This all had the dear Francisco San Roman learned and written in the short space of one month or at most forty days.  From this we see how he was lit up by the love of Christ with burning fiery desire to now also impart to the world the pearl of great price of pure evangelical Lutheran doctrine, which he had found so wonderful by God's grace.  But he soon encountered the most violent persecution.  And the Spaniards who had received his letters in Antwerp decided his downfall.  They answered him in the most friendly way that he could not accomplish his purpose better than if he came to them at Antwerp.  Without delay, our Francisco made his way, and arrived there to celebrate and cheer, now in the hope soon to move the whole of Spain to a Christian Reformation.  Only once he was in the city, a great outcry of the people arose and the monks took him from his horse, imprisoned him in a mercantile [page 176] house and bound his hands and feet.  Then they opened his travel bag in which they found many beautiful books of Luther, Melanchthon and other Germans in Latin, French and German, as well as some caricatures of the Pope.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
23.  Francisco San Roman. Sources: l. Rabus, Th.7, p, 114, 2, Crocius, p, 282.  3. Foxe, The acts and monuments of the church, pag. 469.  [pag. 447-450 here, or here, or here or here; or pgs 170-173 here; Condensed version here]
= = = = = = = = = =  cont'd in Part 23b  = = = = = = = = = = = =

There is a Spanish website (ProtestanteDigital.com blog) with info on San Roman currently here.  —  Wikipedia gives a short history here.  –  And finally, there is an English account of San Roman by Thomas MacCrie in his book here (pgs 82-84) – from a Reformed perspective.  I prefer Hermann Fick's Lutheran account which gives more details and differs from MacCrie's history in certain places.  How quickly the Reformed historians claim the Reformation and its martyrs, even the Lutheran martyrs.  But they broke off from the true Church of the Reformation, the Lutheran Church, as they began to rationalize the unfathomable grace of God in Christ Jesus:
1 Cor. 2:9 – As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
In the next Part 23b, the story of our Francisco continues ...

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