Saint John Fisher (1469-1535)
Feast Day: June 22
The English bishop and martyr was born in Beverly, Yorkshire in 1469. A renowned scholar, John Fisher associated with leading intellectuals and political leaders. Appointed bishop at 35, he raised the preaching standard throughout England.
In 1504, he became bishop of Rochester and chancellor of Cambridge, and tutored young Prince Henry, who would become King Henry VIII.
From 1527 until death, Fisher was a lone voice among English bishops in opposing Henry’s divorce proceedings against first wife Catherine of Aragon, thus defending the sanctity of marriage. Henry imprisoned Fisher and St. Thomas More, the former lord high chancellor, in 1534 after both refused an oath presuming the validity of Henry’s divorce and his claim as head of the English Church. In 1535, Pope Paul III elevated Fisher to cardinal, angering Henry who convicted Fisher of high treason and sentenced him to death by beheading on June 22, 1535. More was executed two weeks later. Pope Pius XI canonized St. John Fisher on May 19, 1935.