Thomas More, & John Fisher, Reformation Martyrs
6 July -- Commemoration
Born in London in 1478, Thomas More studied classics and
then the law, being called to the Bar at twenty-three years
old. His clear honesty and integrity impressed Henry VIII
and he appointed Thomas as his Chancellor. He supported the
king in his efforts to reform the clergy but disagreed over
Henry's disputes with the papacy, caused by the king's
desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and to
find another queen who might provide him with a male heir.
Henry could stand no such act of defiance and imprisoned his
chancellor in the hope that he would renege. Thomas refused
to take the Oath on the Act of Succession, which declared
the king to be the only protector and supreme head of the
Church in England, and was executed for treason on this day
in 1535, declaring that he died the king's good servant but
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival,
Common of Martyrs, page 464
John Fisher was Thomas More's close friend and ally. A
brilliant academic, he had substantially reformed the life
of the University of
Cambridge, through the wealth and influence of his
patron, Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. He
was made Bishop of
and proved himself to be a good pastor to his small diocese.
As with Thomas, Henry VIII much admired him at first, but
when he opposed the king their relationship deteriorated.
Aged sixty-six and in indifferent health, he nevertheless
endured the trauma of imprisonment in the Tower of London.
He was executed just two weeks before Thomas on 22 July