Saint John Fisher

John Fisher was born 1469 in Beverley on Humberside, in the East Riding of Yorkshire and studied at Cambridge University before being Ordained to the Priesthood.

After his time as Parish Priest of Northallerton he returned to Cambridge where he continued a brilliant academic career and was a principal adviser to King Henry VII and spiritual director to the Queen Mother.

Among all of his many brilliant writings, the acknowledged greatest was on the nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Many years after his death, this and other of his writings were of great influence at the Council of Trent, which itself was the greatest Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church until Vatican II in the latter half of the 20th century

In 1504 he was made Chancellor of Cambridge University and Consecrated Bishop of Rochester.

Initially he was much valued by the new King Henry VIII, and was Confessor to his Queen, Catherine of Aragon; standing by her when the King wished to divorce her; and thus falling from royal favour. Alone of all the English Bishops, he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy, which made the King Supreme Head of the Church in England.

In 1534 he was created a Cardinal by Pope Paul III (who reigned from 1534 - 1549)

Although now in his eighties and very ill, Henry VIII had him imprisoned in the Tower of London and charged and tried with High Treason. Despite much pleading, even it is said, from the King himself, Fisher refused to recant. On the orders of King Henry VIII he was beheaded at the Tower on 22 June 1535.

His corpse was buried in the churchyard of All Hallows, Barking, in East London, without either ceremony or shroud His head was impaled outside the Tower of London for 2 weeks before being thrown into the River Thames

In 1935, along with his great friend, S Thomas More, he was Canonised by Pope Pius XI (who reigned from 1922 - 1939)