John Fisher

1469-1535. Roman Catholic martyr, sometimes known as St. John of Rochester. Born of a Yorkshire family, he was educated at Michaelhouse, Cambridge, of which college he became master in 1497. As the chaplain of Lady Margaret Beaufort he enjoyed her support for raising academic standards. In 1504 he became bishop of Rochester and chancellor of Cambridge. Against Lutheran ideas for reform he defended traditional Roman Catholic doctrine. He was scholarly, an admirer of Erasmus,* and genuinely interested in moderate reforms. As confessor to Catherine of Aragon he strongly protested against Henry VIII's determination to divorce her. His property was confiscated, and in 1534 he was put in the Tower for refusing to take the oath relating to the Act of Succession. Then Pope Paul III created him cardinal. This infuriated the king, and within a month Fisher was brought to trial in Westminster Hall, charged with treason. Found guilty, he was executed on 22 June 1535. With Thomas More he was canonized by Pius XI in 1936.