Wednesday, June 22, 2011

St. John Fisher, bishop & martyr -

Since last year, we featured Paulinus of Nola and Thomas More--saints who may be recalled within optional liturgical memorials this day--here are a few notes on today's martyr-bishop, associated with the saint better-known in our time, Thomas More:

Saint John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an English Roman Catholic Scholastic, Bishop, Cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on June 22 in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and July 6 on the Anglican calendar of saints.

Fisher was executed by order of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept him as Head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church's dogma of papal primacy.

Our saint was born in 1469 in Beverley, England and studied theology at Cambridge University where he later became Chancellor. He was named Bishop of Rochester at the age of 35. He was good friends with Thomas More, Chancellor of England under Henry VIII. Bishop John Fisher was known for his unpretentious and modest lifestyle as well as his love for the poor.

Fisher openly opposed King Henry VIII's divorce of Catherine of Aragon and rejected the King's claim to be head of the Church in England. Along with Thomas More, John Fisher was imprisoned and their subsequent executions were only a few days apart.

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The armorial bearings of Cardinal John Fisher: "I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1.17)

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O God, who in martyrdom have brought true faith to its highest expression, grant graciously that, strengthened through the intercession of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips. Through our Lord.  

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