A Lancastrian weaver’s proof of heaven

SIR – Fr Ronald Rolheiser (November 24) tells of near-death experiences in which people have felt the closeness of God, citing as an example Dr Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, in which the writer, adopted as a baby, met the younger sister he never knew he had.

As a Lancastrian bred and buttered, I find personal reassurance in the pre-death experience of the Chorley weaver Roger Wrenno, who was hanged at Lancaster on March 18, 1616 for relieving and assisting Fr John Thules, who was hanged, drawn and quartered there on the same day. Both were offered their lives if they would take the Oath of Allegiance, but they declined.

When Wrenno was being hanged, the rope broke with the weight of his body and he fell to the ground. A fresh rope was found. After kneeling for a few moments in prayer, he ran to the ladder and went up as fast as he could. “How now,” said the sheriff, “what does the man mean that he is in such haste?”

“Oh, Sir,” Wrenno replied, “if you had seen that which I now have just seen, you would be in as much haste to die as I now am.”

We may assume that Roger Wrenno was not the only martyr to have been given a glimpse of the afterlife on the day that he went to his death. As Fr Rolheiser has pointed out, the God we cannot even imagine is as close to us as we are to ourselves.

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