“Evige Gud, du har satt martyriet som det høyeste vitnesbyrd om den sanne tro. Hjelp oss på forbønn av dine helgener John Fisher og Thomas More å vitne med vårt liv om den tro vi bekjenner med vår munn. Ved vår Herre Jesus Kristus, din sønn …”
I dag minnes Kirken disse to viktigste reformasjonsmartyrene i England, og over ser man kollektbønnen i dagens messe – og bildet øverst viser stedet for the Tower Hill scaffold, der de begge ble halshugd.
Katolsk.no skriver om Fisher, som ble født i 1469, bl.a.:
I 1504 ble han rektor i Cambridge og biskop av Rochester, og fikk snart et stort navn som predikant og sjelesørger. Hans mangel på personlige ambisjoner fikk ham til å avslå rikere bispeseter, for pliktene i Englands minste bispedømme, selv om han gjennomførte dem samvittighetsfullt, ga ham tid til sine akademiske sysler. Han bygde også opp et av de beste biblioteker i Europa. Han erkjente fullt ut det brennende behov for stadige reformer innenfor Kirken, noe som gjaldt alle, helt fra paver og biskoper til menighetene og den enkelte katolikk. Men han var motstander av de lutherske reformidéer og skrev imot dem og forsvarte de tradisjonelle doktrinene om realpresensen og det eukaristiske offer. Han skrev fire bind mot Luther, alt mens han foretrakk bønn og eksemplets makt fremfor diskusjon. Da kong Henrik VII døde i 1509, var det Fisher som prekte i begravelsen. Den nye kongen, Henrik VIII, erklærte at ingen fyrste eller kongedømme hadde en så fremragende prelat, og han var det selvfølgelige valg som skriftefar for dronning Katarina av Aragón i 1527.
Engelske Wikipedia skriver også mye om ham, og slik beskrives de siste ukene av hans liv:
In May 1535, the newly elected Pope Paul III created Fisher Cardinal Priest of San Vitale, apparently in the hope of inducing Henry to ease Fisher’s treatment. The effect was precisely the reverse: Henry forbade the cardinal’s hat to be brought into England, declaring that he would send the head to Rome instead. In June a special commission for Fisher’s trial was issued, and on Thursday, 17 June, he was arraigned in Westminster Hall before a court of seventeen, including Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn’s father, and ten justices. The charge was treason, in that he denied that the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Since he had been deprived of his position of Bishop of Rochester by the Act of Attainder, he was treated as a commoner, and tried by jury. The only testimony was that of Richard Rich. John Fisher was found guilty and condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn.
However, a public outcry was brewing among the London populace who saw a sinister irony in the parallels between the conviction of Fisher and that of his patronal namesake, Saint John the Baptist, who was executed by King Herod Antipas for challenging the validity of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s divorcée Herodias. For fear of John Fisher’s living through his patronal feast day, that of the Nativity of St John the Baptist on 24 June, and of attracting too much public sympathy, King Henry commuted the sentence to that of beheading, to be accomplished before 23 June, the Vigil of the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. He was executed on Tower Hill on 22 June 1535. The execution had the opposite effect from that which King Henry VIII intended as it created yet another parallel with that of the martyrdom of St John the Baptist who was also beheaded; his death also happened on the feast day of Saint Alban, the first martyr of Britain.
Fisher’s last moments were in keeping with his life. He met death with a calm dignified courage which profoundly impressed those present. His body was treated with particular rancour, apparently on Henry’s orders, being stripped and left on the scaffold until the evening, when it was taken on pikes and thrown naked into a rough grave in the churchyard of All Hallows’ Barking, also known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower. There was no funeral prayer. A fortnight later, his body was laid beside that of Sir Thomas More in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London. Fisher’s head was stuck upon a pole on London Bridge but its ruddy and lifelike appearance excited so much attention that, after a fortnight, it was thrown into the Thames, its place being taken by that of Sir Thomas More, whose execution, also at Tower Hill, occurred on 6 July.
Fisher was a figure universally esteemed throughout Europe and notwithstanding the subsequent efforts of the English government, was to remain so. In the Decree of Beatification issued on 29 December 1886 by Pope Leo XIII, when 54 English martyrs were beatified, the greatest place was given to Fisher. He was later canonised, on 19 May 1935, by Pope Pius XI along with Thomas More, after the presentation of a petition by English Catholics.