On December 23, du Bourg was sentenced to be hanged and then burned. The execution took place the same afternoon. From the scaffold, he proclaimed to the crowds, “My friends, I am not here as a thief or a murderer, but for the gospel.” He was 38 years old. His last words were a prayer: “Don’t forsake me, my God, that I may not forsake you!”
Anne du Bourg – A Conflicted Martyr
Anne du Bourg is an important French Protestant who is almost entirely forgotten. Born around 1520 in Riom, in the French region of Auvergne, he studied law at the University of Orléans, where he received his doctorate in 1550. He then remained there as professor until 1557, when he obtained the prestigious post of counsellor in the French Parliament. He was known for his noble deportment and friendly nature.
A Roman Catholic by birth, he had come into contact with Protestant teachings at the University of Orleans, through foreign students who shared the gospel through their own words and through books. While Protestant views were usually tolerated in foreigners, they were swiftly eradicated in the local population. During his time at Orleans, du Bourg witnessed the burning of several French Protestants, such as Guillaume Husson, Etienne Peloquin, Anne Audebert, and Claude Thierry.
Moved by the martyrs’ testimonies and persuaded by a study of Scriptures, du Bourg came to share the Protestants’ convictions. At the same time, he continued his duties, even agreeing to be ordained as deacon in the Roman Catholic Church when that allowed him to become a member of Parliament.
Overall, he agreed with the teachings of the Reformation. On occasion, he worshiped, with great pleasure, at the Reformed church of Paris. At the same time, he attended Mass when in company of others who might have become offended by his views. John Calvin would have included him in his category of Nicodemites – those who, like Nicodemus of old, reveal their convictions only under cover of night.