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Monday, July 09, 2007

Martyrs of England

Today we celebrate the feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Two great and outstanding names amongst the heroes of the Catholic faith against the foul heresy of Protestantism, which tore poor England apart.

St. John Fisher was born in 1469 at Beverly. He was chaplain to Henry VIII’s mother and chancellor of Cambridge University, before being made bishop of Rochester in 1504. He was created Cardinal by Pope Paul III. Fisher was imprisoned in the tower of London for refusing to support Henry VIII’s divorce, and well as his claim to the title of ‘Supreme Head of the Church in England’. He ascended the scaffold on June 22nd 1535. His last words, which have been fittingly incorporated into the Alleluia of today’s Mass were taken from St. John’s Gospel: “This is eternal life that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent”. After uttering these words, he was beheaded.
St Thomas More was born in London on February 7th, 1478. He had at first considered a religious vocation with the Carthusians, but discovered that it was not his vocation, and married. Although his first wife died in childbirth he married, again, and soon found favour with the King, Henry VIII. As a result he began to rise high in the royal court, until, despite his opposition to the King’s divorce, he was made High Chancellor of England in 1527. He resigned the post in 1532, and on April 17th, 1534, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to sigh the Oath of Supremacy naming King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church in England. He heroically resisted all solicitations on the part of his family, and was found guilty of treason. After his last words “The King’s good servant, but God’s first”, he was beheaded on July 6th 1535.

Let us take courage from these to great martyrs for the faith. Who knows when, or how quickly a new persecution will begin against God’s faithful. Who knows if God will perhaps call us to prove our love for Him, and to shed our blood for His sake? Let us pray to St. John Fisher and to St. Thomas More, that they may intercede for us, that, whatever providence has in store for us, with the help of God’s Grace, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may always have the strength to carry out His Divine Will to the end.

Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us!

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