Saints and Holy People

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Saint John Fisher (1469–1535)

Saint John Fisher (1469–1535)

Feast day: June 22

Saint John Fisher was an academic who was associated with the intellectuals and politicians of his time. He acted as chancellor at the University of Cambridge in England and was elected bishop. John’s scholarly background helped mold him into a celebrated writer and preacher. He was well known for his sermons on the penitential psalms and for his books against heresy.

In 1521, he was summoned to look into the validity of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He stated that the marriage was valid and indissoluble, which incurred the wrath of the king, and later he also renounced the king’s claim that he was supreme head of the Church in England. Henry tried to dispose of John, first by accusing him of not transcribing all of the “revelations” of Sr. Elizabeth Barton, and then for refusing to take the oath of the Act of Succession, which declared Henry’s divorce from Catherine legal and made him the head of the Church of England.

John’s friend Thomas More also refused to take the oath. They were both sent to the Tower of London, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment. When he was called for further questioning, John once again refused to recognize Henry VIII as the head of England’s Church. John was also accused of high treason because he had been made a cardinal by the Pope. He was condemned to death and executed. 

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