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Saint John Fisher [Paperback]

Vincent Nichols


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Book Description

14 Oct 2011
John Fisher was beheaded at Tower Hill on 22 June 1535, a few weeks before his friend and Thomas More met the same fate. Fisher and More were both Catholics who suffered for their refusal to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the English Church, and both were canonised as martyrs in 1935. Vincent Nichols fluent, accessible and original study of Fisher, written nearly forty years ago and only recently rediscovered, uses primary sources to demonstrate that parish and academic life on the eve of the Reformation was more dynamic and vigorous than is usually portrayed, and alert to the need for reform and to rise to the challenges of the new learning. Although Fisher founded and taught in university colleges and became embroiled in the bitter controversies of the Reformation, his heart lay in the priesthood, in prayer, in study of the scriptures and love of the poor. He was a man of humility, faithfulness and outstanding courage. Nichols findings often anticipate those of later writers. Working on this thesis was a real adventure, Nichols writes, taking me to primary sources in libraries that I would never have expected to enter. There was a thrill in handling manuscripts and very early printed books which, in all likelihood, had lain undisturbed for hundreds of years. There has of course been considerable research and scholarship on the Reformation in England in the years since Nichols completed his study, and a final chapter by Kevin Eastell, Director of the Moreanum, Université Catholique de l Ouest, Angers, fills in some gaps in the picture.

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This is a remarkable piece of work, learned, perceptive, and in its broad conclusions, spot on; at the time of writing it was least ten years ahead of the game. Some of the material has been has been overtaken by later research, but only in the sense that Nichols touches on issues which later work amplifies. --Eamon Duffy

About the Author

Vincent Nichols is the Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. He previously served as Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 to 2009.

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