(Henry VIII 1534 A.D.)
The Christian church existed in England long before the Christian Church throughout civilization became known as the “Roman Catholic Church”. The patriarchal authors and apologists Origen and Tertullian write of a Christian contingency in the far isles of Breton. Bishops from these small churches managed to attend the councils of Arles and Rimini in 314 and 359 respectively. However, with the invasion of the pagan Germanic tribes – Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, much of this small Christian establishment was disbursed or lost altogether until a mission was sent from the Catholic church in 597. The Germanic Breton, soon to be called “England” or “Land of the Angles” would be part of the Catholic Empire until the English Reformation of the 16th century.
The churches of the Anglican Communion have their historical beginning when King Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547) wished to obtain a divorce from Anne Boleyn that the pope would not grant. Seizing upon the spirit of emancipation sparked by the boldness of Hus and Luther, the King of England would make an historic proclamation. Through the Act of Supremacy of 1534, the king made himself the “supreme head” of the Church of England in place of the Pope.
When Henry’s daughter, Mary Tudor, ascended the throne, she brought the English country back into the Roman Catholic fold. By this time there were many in England that opposed the idea of going back to papal authority and when they raised their voice in protest, many of them lost their lives. This internal martyrdom earned Queen Mary the title of “Bloody Mary”.
In 1558, Mary grew ill and eventually died. Henry’s other daughter (under Anne Boleyn) Elizabeth succeeded her and restored the Church of England as the official church for England, never to return to Catholicism.
The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the “English Church”. The liturgy of the Anglican church closely resembles that of Catholicism in that it is considered ‘high’ church or a church of orthodoxy. Today, there is a move within the Anglican church to modernize worship and interaction resulting in a greater appeal to a younger generation in the UK.