Today we celebrate the Feast of St John Fisher and St Thomas More. Both Saints are depicted in the stained glass window inside St Mary’s Church.
John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535), was an English Catholic bishop, cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic, and eventually served as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
Fisher was executed by order of Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept him as the supreme head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church’s doctrine of papal supremacy. He was named a cardinal shortly before his death. He is honoured as a martyr and saint by the Catholic Church. He shares his feast day with Thomas More on 22 June in the Catholic calendar of saints.
Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was also a chancellor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to May 1532. He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary island state.
More opposed the Protestant Reformation, directing polemics against the theology of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and William Tyndale. More also opposed Henry VIII’s separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and executed. On his execution, he was reported to have said: “I die the King’s good servant, and God’s first”.
Pope Pius XI canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the patron saint of statesmen and politicians. The Soviet Union in the early twentieth century honoured him for the purportedly communist attitude toward property rights in Utopia.