A reminder of the Protestant Reformation

July, 14, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The town of St. Andrews is full of hidden history, often violent.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Protestant Reformation changed Europe forever. It certainly changed St. Andrews. John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church, incited a mob that destroyed the town's cathedral, which still sits in ruins. And if you walk down North Street, less than a half-mile from the R&A clubhouse, you'll find the initials "P.H." laid out in stone on the sidewalk.

This is where martyr Patrick Hamilton was burned alive.

It was 1528.

He was a young priest, a reformer who was arrested by the Catholic Church. They lit him on fire at noon. He burned for six hours. Finally, he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," and he died.

On the wall of the college above his charred body, a face appeared. Hamilton's face. It remains on the stone today. Students step around his initials; step on them, the legend goes, and you will fail. On graduation day, though, there's always a person or two jumping up and down defiantly on the P.H.

Wright Thompson | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Wright Thompson (@wrightthompson) is a senior writer for ESPN.com and The Magazine. He has been featured in seven editions of Best American Sports Writing and lives in Oxford, Mississippi.




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