Auto-da-fé (Portuguese: “act of faith”)

  • The public ceremony in which the Inquisition pronounced judgment and passed sentence on those tried as heretics.
  • The execution by the secular power of the sentence thus passed; esp., the public burning of a heretic.

Auto-da-fé (2016) is a one shot, thirteen-minute film which focuses on the Protestant Martyr's Steps in Lewes, East Sussex. The steps were renovated for public display in 2016 to highlight and accompany the story of the martyrs.

On the morning 22nd June 1557 ten prisoners, six men and four women, walked up the steps to be burned at the stake charged with being Protestant sympathisers. The grotesque event was probably an attempt to halt the Reformation, a movement against what its followers considered to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church.

From street level tourists can look down into the cellar where the accused would have awaited execution. I decided to look up the steps in an attempt to understand how the martyrs would have felt immediately before they were burned at a stake on front of a braying crowd. Discrete sounds of the street and cellar punctuate what I hope is a meditative piece that considers the actions individuals have undertaken in the name of religion.