Saints John Fisher and Thomas More: from Pope Pius XI's canonisation homily

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More: from Pope Pius XI's canonisation homily


From time to time new heresies make their appearance and, under the guise of truth, gain strength and popularity; but the seamless garment of Christ can never be torn asunder.

[Saints John Fisher and Thomas More] could not be shaken by the fallacies of heretics, nor frightened by the threats of the powerful. They were, so to speak, the leaders and chieftains of that illustrious band of men who, from all classes of the people and from every part of Great Britain, resisted the new errors with unflinching spirit, and in shedding their blood, testified their loyal devotedness to the Holy See.

John Fisher, while meek and affable towards the afflicted and the suffering, whenever there was question of defending the integrity of faith and morals, like a second Precursor of the Lord, in whose name he gloried, he was not afraid to proclaim the truth openly, and to defend by every means in his power the divine teachings of the Church.

It was because of his courageous determination to defend the sacred bond of Christian marriage - a bond indissoluble for all, even for those who wear the royal diadem - and to vindicate the Primacy with which the Roman Pontiffs are invested by divine command that he was imprisoned and afterwards led to death.

The other star of sanctity that traced a luminous path across that dark period of history was Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of the King of England. Endowed with the keenest of minds and supreme versatility in every kind of knowledge, he enjoyed such esteem and favour among his fellow-citizens that he was soon able to reach the highest grades of public office.

A strong and courageous spirit, like John Fisher, when he saw that the doctrines of the Church were gravely endangered, he knew how to despise resolutely the flattery of human respect, how to resist, in accordance with his duty, the supreme head of the State when there was question of things commanded by God and the Church.

It was for these motives that he too was imprisoned [and put to death].

Extracts from the canonisation homily of Pope Pius XI on 19 May 1935. The Feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More occurred on 22 June (and occurs on 9 July in the old Calendar).

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