Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Paxtonvic and the Reformation Martyrs.

Hum…. sounds a bit heavy for Paxtonvic at this time of night, but I noticed in my dairy that today John Fisher is remembered, one of the Reformation martyrs – and I knew I had heard that name before… and and this is how it came to be…..ignore now if you dont want a bit of church reformation history….

John Fisher and Thomas Moore – July 6th

The name John Fisher rang a bell when I glanced at the lectionary on Monday – for on July 6th the 16th Century English Bishop and Cardinal John Fisher was remembered along with Thomas More the famous English Scholar – both of whom fell foul of Henry 8th and his tyrannical treatment of anyone who stood in his way over his desired divorce from Catherine of Arragon.

There is a Roman Catholic boys school in Purley near Croyden called  The John Fisher School and if you scroll down the list of staff at the school and come to the Mathematics  department, you will find Michael Reed’s name – that’s my Michael – and I’m very proud that he not only endured but enjoyed two years of teaching there.

So that’s where Id heard the name John Fisher –and I thought Id better find out about this “ Reformation Martyr” who is  remembered  today  along with Thomas More.

John Fisher was born in 1469, enrolled at Cambridge University in 1483 ( 14 years old)  ordained in 1491, and in 1502 became chaplain to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII.


With her money and his ideas, they greatly altered Cambridge, restoring the teaching of Greek and Hebrew, bringing Erasmus over as a lecturer, and endowing many chairs and scholarships. In 1504 Fisher was made Chancellor of Cambridge and Bishop of Rochester. In 1527 he became chaplain to the new king, Henry VIII, and confessor to the queen, Catherine of Aragon. He stood high in the favour of Henry, who proclaimed that no other realm had any bishop as learned and devout.  So – why did Fisher end up loosing his head at the hands of this king who had much admired him?

I will tell you in a minute when we’ve had a quick look at Thomas Moore.

Thomas More was born in 1478 ( nine years younger than Fisher) studied law and was called to the Bar in 1501. He spent four years at the London Charterhouse (monastery of the Carthusian monks), considering becoming a priest or monk or friar. In 1505 he married Jane Colt, who eventually bore him three daughters and a son, but died in 1511. A few weeks after her death, More married a widow, Alice Middleton, with a son and a daughter of her own. The second marriage produced no offspring, but Alice made a good home for the six children already there, plus others whom More took in as students or as foster children.

He was noted for giving his daughters far more education than most women, even in the upper classes, received. His friends included Erasmus and Colet, and other scholars who desired moderate reforms in the Church but were set against any break with the Pope. Henry VIII, who became king in 1509, recognized More’s learning and integrity, and appointed him to numerous public offices, including finally that of Lord Chancellor of England.

Trouble arose for both Fisher and More when Henry determined to seek a declaration that his marriage with Catherine was null on grounds of consanguinity. Fisher and More disagreed with him, and would not yield, either on the question of the annulment, nor later, when they were required to acknowledge the King as the final authority on ecclesiastical questions in England. Henry had them imprisoned, and finally beheaded, Fisher on 22 June 1535 and More on 6 July 1535.

Fisher’s  last moments were thoroughly in keeping with his previous life. He met death with a calm dignified courage which profoundly impressed all present.

He was canonized in the RC church  in 1935 by Pope Pius XI .

The John Fisher School was founded by Archbishop Amigo,  RC Archbishop of Southwark, in 1929. I moved in 1931 to Peaks Hill, Purley. It is now an  all-ability school maintained by the London Borough of Sutton. From its web-site I read:

“It aims to create for the school community an atmosphere enlivened by the gospel spirit of freedom and charity. It aims to help the adolescent in such a way that the development of his own personality will be matched by the growth of that new creation which he became by baptism. It strives to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life, and of mankind”.

I rather like that…

Sounds a good place to be –and aptly named after a brave and courageous Christian soul living in deeply troubled times for the Christian Church.

I’m very glad that Michael found his way  to The John Fisher School  and I hope he continues to enjoy his time there. He certainly didnt get his maths ability from me!

July 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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