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What does my wife is the very brick and mortar of the church mean?

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What does my wife is the very brick and mortar of the church mean?

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This line is spoken by Francis Nurse about his wife, Rebecca, as a way of defending her against charges of witchcraft.

The line is a metaphor meant to emphasize how important she is to the church.

If you think about an actual church builiding (especially in those days), it's made of brick and mortar.  Those are the things that form the walls of the church and make the church what it is.

So what he's saying about his wife is that she is (figuratively only), as important to the church as its bricks and mortar.  He's saying that she is what holds the church up and makes it what it is.

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