Today is the Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, the latter of the two who is more popularly known as he was the central character of the movie, “A Man for All Seasons.” The film depicts the final years of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Lord Chancellor of England who refused both to sign a letter asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry VIII of England’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and to take an Oath of Supremacy declaring Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England. But St. John Fisher was in the same situation as Thomas More.
Fisher was a priest, a theologian, and academic. He served as the Chancellor of Cambridge at the start of the 16th century two decades before the Protestant Reformations. He founded St. John’s and Christ’s Colleges at Cambridge, he served as President of Queen’s Collage Cambridge, Bishop of Rochester, and as theological counselor to King Henry VIII. Fisher is also held to be the true author of the royal treatise against Martin Luther entitled “In Defense of the Seven Sacraments”, published in 1521, which won for King Henry VIII the title “Defender of the Faith.”
But soon enough he ran afoul of Henry over the royal divorce between the King and Catherine of Aragon. Added to that, Fisher refused to recognize Henry as the head of the Catholic Church in England. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but because of his loyal service, Henry changed the sentencing to beheading. Fisher was buried next to St. Thomas More.
In a world where the whole of England lost its moral compass, choosing to curry favor to a secular world, effectively crying out “We have no King but Henry,” John Fisher and Thomas More, Englishmen to the depths of their being, still understood to whom they truly belonged.
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.