Having a few days ago reviewed the death of John Knox, it is only fitting here to also review his burial.
Parking Space Number 23
You might wonder what in the world is a post about a parking space doing in This Day in Presbyterian History? Well, if this author tells you that it is the final resting place of Scot Reformer John Knox, as seen in the photo of this post, you will understand. And yet we don’t really understand or comprehend it. All right, every church needs a parking lot. Every church needs space for its worshiper’s automobiles. But to pave over a portion of the church graveyard without moving the graves there, especially the grave of a former pastor of the church and Reformation leaders, namely John Knox, that is really crass, in this author’s opinion. But that is exactly what happened sometime in the 1970’s of the last century.
His funeral had taken place on this day, November 26, 1572, two days after he died. Read the words of Thomas M’Cree from the “Life of John Knox” (p. 277):
“On Wednesday, the 26th of November, he (knox) was interred in the church-yard of St. Giles. His funeral was attended by the newly-elected regent, Morton, by all the nobility who were in the city, and a great concourse of people.”
William M. Hetherington in his History of the Church of Scotland, on pg 77, continues the story of his burial when he wrote:
“When his (Knox) was lowered into the grave, and gazing thoughtfully into the open sepulcher, the regent emphatically pronounced his eulogium in these words, ‘There lies he who never feared the face of man.’”
Regent Morton knew himself the truthfulness of these final words as John Knox had reproved him to his face, with Hetherington calling the regent later on in his history “that bold bad man.” (p. 77)
It is interesting to this author that, despite searching, he has not found anything of the burial service itself other than these brief remarks around the grave. We in these United States usually have a funeral message, with Scripture being read, and other remarks of comfort and promises regarding the bodily resurrection of the Christian being buried.
What we do know is that in St. Giles Cathedral parking lot is a parking space with number 23 painted on it, with a blank yellow stone at its head. Below that yellow stone that can be found written in a circle of colored bricks the following message, “The above stone marks the approximate site of the burial in St. Giles graveyard of John Knox the great Scottish divine who died on 24 November 1572.”
Words to Live By:
There are several monuments to John Knox in Edinburgh, one inside St. Giles Cathedral itself. Another one is standing in Geneva, Switzerland. In one sense, all of Scotland is a memorial to this great Reformer. whether they acknowledge it or not. We who are the spiritual Presbyterian heritage of John Knox, have the hope and confidence that one day Parking Space number 23 will be emptied of its remains and John Knox will be reunited with his spirit already up in heaven. Come, Lord Jesus.