King Henry VIII (1491-1547) married six times. His decision to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, resulted in him asking the parliament to declare him as the supreme head of the Church in England.
Henry was determined to impose his will upon the people, and required his subjects to take the Oath of Supremacy—swore allegiance to the monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church in England. He punished severely those who refused to take the oath.
John Fisher & Thomas More
St. John Fisher (1469-1535) was Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge University. He laid the foundation of the library at Cambridge University with his personal collection of books. He began to study Greek at forty-eight, and began to study Hebrew at fifty-one.
Fisher refused the Oath of Supremacy and said, “I dare not tear the seamless robe of Christ”. Fisher defended the marriage of Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon, and pointed out that St. John the Baptist died defending the sanctity of marriage.
John Fisher was named cardinal a month before his death. He was executed on June 22, 1535.
St. Thomas More (1478-1535) was a lawyer. He held a number of public offices and eventually became the Chancellor of England.
When Henry VIII broke with the Church, Thomas More did his best to recall him to his senses. Thomas More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, and he was deprived of his high office and property.
On July 6, 1535 Thomas More was beheaded. He said, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
Edmond Campion & Margaret Clitherow
Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, reigned from 1558 to 1603. She began a campaign of legislation against the Catholic Church and was excommunicated by Pope St. Pius V in 1570. Elizabeth started a bloody persecution of the Catholic Church in 1571.
St. Edmond Campion (1540-1581) was the first Jesuit martyr in England. He took the Oath of Supremacy and was an Anglican deacon. The study of the Church Fathers brought him back to the Catholic Faith.
Edmond Campion became a Jesuit at thirty-three. Five years later, he was ordained a priest, and about two years later he disguised as a jewel merchant and returned to England to minister to the faithful.
Edmond Campion used writings to defend and uphold the Catholic Faith. After about one year of fruitful ministry in English, Campion was arrested.
Before he was sentenced to death, Campion said, “In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops and kings—all that was once the glory of England.”
Campion suffered martyrdom on December 1, 1581.
St. Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586) was a convert to Catholicism after her marriage. Each morning she did one and a half hour of prayer and meditation. She also confessed twice a week and fasted four times a week.
Under Elizabeth I, it was a crime to harbor priests and to attend Mass. The house of Margaret was searched and altar furnishings were found. She was arrested on 10 March, 1586.
Since the only witnesses against Margaret would be her own little children and servants, whom she could not bear to involve in the guilt of her death, she refused to plead, but would only answer, “Having made no offense, I need no trial.”
Margaret was sentenced to be pressed to death, and she said, “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this”.
She was executed on March 25, 1586, and her last words during an agony of fifteen minutes, were “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! have mercy on me!”
The two sons of Margaret became Catholic priests, and her daughter became a nun.
聖若望.費休 (1469-1535) 是路卻斯特主教及劍橋大學校長，一手建樹大學圖書館，捐出大量私人藏書；年四十八歲學習希臘文，五十一歲進修希伯來文。
聖多默.謨爾 (1478-1535) 原是一位律師，曾任多項公職，且榮任英國首相。
聖愛德沐.江本 (1540-1581) 是第一位在英國殉道的耶穌會會士。他原擁護英皇，被委以聖公會牧職，後因閱讀教父們的著作而被感化，暗中離開祖國，重回真道。
聖瑪加利大. 格利塞羅 (1556-1586) 婚後皈依聖教。每天早晨，瑪加利大均用個半小時祈禱默想，每週辦兩次告解和守四次守齋。