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Saint of the Day: Sts John Fisher and Thomas More

Martyred by King Henry VIII

Thomas More and John Fisher

Lawrence OP | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Martyrs (d. 1535)

Their lives

+ John Fisher, considered one of the most learned me of his day, was born in Yorkshire in 1459. Educated at Cambridge, he later served the university in a number of positions and added Desiderius Erasmus to the school’s faculty.

+ Named Bishop of Rochester in 1504, he served as tutor of the future Henry VIII. He later became a staunch opponent to Henry’s claims to authority over the Church and his request for a divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon.

+ Because of his opposition, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534. The following year he was made a cardinal by Pope Paul III. Henry opposed this act by having Bishop Fisher beheaded at Tower Hall on June 22.

+ Thomas was born in London and educated at Oxford. A lawyer by training, he was eventually elected to Parliament. In 1504, he married Jane Colt and the couple had 4 children. Following her death, he married Alice Middleton. Thomas was a dedicated husband and father and revered as a witty and brilliant man.

+ In 1529, King Henry VIII appointed More to serve as Chancellor of England. More resigned three years later when Henry persisted in pursuing his divorce and break with the Church of Rome. He spent the remainder of his life working to defend the Church and, in 1534, he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy which would have acknowledged Henry as head of the Church in England.

+ Thomas More was subsequently arrested and convicted of treason. On July 6, 1535, only nine days after the execution of his friend, Cardinal John Fisher, he was beheaded. As he was led to the scaffold, he proclaimed that he remained “the King’s good servant—but God’s first.”

+ Thomas More and John Fisher were canonized together in 1935 and their common liturgical commemoration is celebrated on June 22, the anniversary of Fisher’s execution.

For prayer and reflection

“Christian people, I am about to die for faith in the Holy Catholic Church of Christ.”—Saint John Fisher’s words to the spectators at his execution


O God, who in martyrdom
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
graciously grant
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 Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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