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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Parallel between St John Fisher and St John the Baptist

 Posted by Dr. Taylor Marshall

Saint John Fisher - the English John the Baptist

 Saint John Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England in 1469, the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a modestly prosperous merchant of Beverley, and Agnes Fisher. He was named after Saint John the Baptist.

 He was the only bishop in England who faithfully defended the Pope against the adulterous tyranny of King Henry VIII. All the other English bishops apostatized. John Fisher, even more valiantly than Thomas More, defended the valid marriage of Henry to Catherine of Aragon and vehemently opposed Henry VIII's assumption of the title "Supreme Head" of the English Church.

 As early as 1530 Saint John Fisher began to preach that he was willing to die like Saint John the Baptist in defense of the sacrament of matrimony. You'll remember that John the Baptist received martyrdom for protesting King Herod Antipas' adulterous marriage to Herodias.

 Henry VIII was the new Herod
 Ann Boleyn was the new Herodias
 John Fisher was the new John the Baptist

 When John Fisher was convicted of "treason" he was, of course, sentenced to death. Henry, as Head of the Church" had already defrocked John Fisher and deposed him of his bishopric. Pope Paul III responded by naming John Fisher as a cardinal of the Catholic church. This infuriated Henry VIII who said that the Bishop of Rome did not need to send the cardinal's hat to Fisher - Henry would instead send the Fisher's decapitated head to Rome!

 Accounts say that Fisher was sentenced to die on June 23 or 24. However, June 23 is the vigil of St John the Baptist and the 24th is the feast of Saint John the Baptist. Englishmen began to snicker at the irony. John Fisher truly was a new Saint John the Baptist and would even share a feast day with him.

 Henry VIII panicked and had the sentence moved up to June 22 so that the parallel would not be obvious. This is the day of Fisher's glorious death for the sake of Christ.

 Saint John Fisher is a saint of our time. He is the only cardinal who was also a martyr. Moreover, he died defending the liberty of the Pope and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony. What better saint for our time!

 Saint John Fisher, pray for us.


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