Feast of St. John Fisher (June 22)   Leave a comment

English Roman Catholic Bishop and Martyr; died in 1535

St. John Fisher was born to a merchant in Beverley, Yorkshire, England, on October 19, 1469.

Fisher graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1491, the same year he became a fellow of that college.  Three years later Fisher became Proctor at Cambridge.  In 1497 the saint moved to the position of master debater. Four years later, still at Cambridge, he earned is doctorate and became Vice Chancellor.  From 1505 to 1508 Fisher rose to the office of President of Queen’s College, University of Cambridge.

Meanwhile, the saint had become confessor to Margaret Beaufort, Queen Consort of King Henry VII and mother of the future Henry VIII in 1497.  In addition, he served as Bishop of Rochester from 1504 to 1535, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1504 to 1505, and tutor to the Prince of Wales (the future Henry VIII) from 1504 to 1509.

St. John Fisher was a very busy man.

Fisher, who had preached at Henry VII’s funeral in 1509 and tutored Henry VIII, died at the command of Henry VIII.  The saint’s road to martyrdom began in the 1520s and 1530s, when Henry VIII sought a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.  Fisher defended Queen Catherine and counseled her.  Then, when Fisher refused to recognize Henry VIII as head of the English Church, authorities arrested the bishop in 1533.  Two years later Pope Paul III elevated Fisher to the College of Cardinals, just as the English authorities convicted him of treason and sent him to martyrdom.

Fisher died on June 22, 1535.  Pope Pius canonized him in 1935.


Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.  Inspire us with the memory of St. John Fisher, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38


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