SS JOHN FISHER & THOMAS MORE

St Thomas More: St Pius X Basilica Lourdes

St Thomas More: St Pius X Basilica Lourdes

This is the feastday of St John Fisher and St Thomas More in the Roman Catholic calendar. The Church of England commemorates him two weeks later on July 6th. It was a tweet from @NewDawnYouth (conference in Walsingham) that reminded me of the occasion and prompted this article. It led me to another by a tweeter who has styled himself @fisherandmore.

Edmund Montgomery is a deacon in the Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury in England who is being ordained a priest today at Our Lady & St Christopher’s in Romiley near Stockport in Greater Manchester by Bishop Mark Davies. By the time this is published, he will be officially Fr Montgomery and congratulations go to him on his big day.

This large picture of More was photographed by me during the international military pilgrimage last month in Lourdes, in which contingents from the Irish Defence Forces along with the Royal Navy, British Army and RAF took part. More’s image is one of many saints (including Patrick) which hang between the concrete beams of the underground basilica of St Pius X.

Thomas More was born in Milk Street (off Cheapside) in the City of London in 1478, the son of a successful lawyer. In 1504 he was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth and subsequently London, serving as one of the two undersheriffs of the City of London. In 1514 he was appointed as a Privy Councillor and was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521. He was secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, an influential person on government and was elected the Speaker of the House of Commons in. 1523. He became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster two years later.

More was an opponent of the Protestant reformation. He became Lord Chancellor in 1529, just as Henry had become determined to obtain a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. When the King declared himself ‘supreme head of the Church in England’ – thus establishing the Anglican Church and allowing him to end his marriage – More resigned the chancellorship. He continued to argue against the King’s divorce and the split with Rome, and in 1534 was arrested after refusing to swear an oath of succession repudiating the Pope and accepting the annulment of Henry’s marriage. He was tried for treason at Westminster and on 6th July 1535 was executed at Tower Hill.

He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 as one of the early martyrs of the schism that separated the Church of England from Rome.  Pope John Paul II declared him “the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians”. The full proclamation on October 31st 2000 can be found here.

Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

John Fisher was appointed Bishop of Rochester in Kent by Henry VII in October 1504 and served in that position for over 30 years. I saw the Cathedral when I walked past it in April on my way to Gillingham Football Club. For his story, I point to a summary on the website of the John Fisher school in Purley, the only school to be named after him prior to his canonisation by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

Saint John Fisher (October 1469 – 22 June 1535) who came from Beverley in Yorkshire was a Bishop, Cardinal and Martyr. He was executed in the Tower of London by order of King Henry VIII during the Reformation for refusing to accept him as Head of the Church of England. On June 22nd 1535, John Fisher was taken from his cell in the Bell Tower to be executed for treason. In the Decree of Beatification issued by Pope Leo XIII on 29th December 1886, when 54 English Martyrs were beatified, the greatest place was given to Fisher.

ROCHESTER

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

Walking in Kent along the River Medway from Strood yesterday on our way to Gillingham, we entered the city of Rochester. The Castle dominated the skyline. The 12th Century keep (stone tower) is one of the best preserved in England or France. It was strategically positioned to prevent an invasion of the South-East coast in the medieval period. Beside it is the impressive Cathedral, confirming its status as a City. The bishopric is the second oldest in England after Canterbury.

Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

Rochester is also associated with Charles Dickens, who lived nearby in the village of Higham at Gads Hill Place. There is a Dickens Centre devoted to his life and works. The writer had wished to be buried in the grounds of the Cathedral, but was instead interred at Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey in London.

Another famous resident was the actress Dame Sybil Thorndike (1882-1976). As a young girl, she and her brother, the author Russell Thorndike, lived for eight years in one of the houses at Minor Canon Row when their father was a Minor Canon at Rochester Cathedral.

Plaque marks the house

Plaque at house

The house adjacent to Prior’s Gate is part of a terrace from the early Georgian period. If you would like to live there and have £850,000 to spare, you might be interested in the end of terrace house, the interior of which you can see on the Jackson-Stops page.

Thorndike house

Thorndike house

WFFW6 DAY THREE

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

DAY THREE: The walk began this morning at Strood station in Kent. Today’s section of the 43-mile route went for about nine miles. A nice section of it was along the River Medway and past Rochester as far as Gillingham, where AFC Wimbledon played Gillingham FC at Priestlands at 3pm. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. I was leaving just as the Dons scored the vital equaliser. Now it’s down to the wire next Saturday at Kingsmeadow if we are to avoid relegation back to the non-league Conference. The Gills took the League 2 title and are promoted to division one (the old division 3) next season.

Gillingham v AFC Wimbledon

Gillingham v AFC Wimbledon

My chosen charity apart from the AFCW Community fund is Diabetes UK and details of how to donate can be found in my JustGiving page or click the Sponsor me button at the top of the page. Or Text WFFW67 £5 to 70070 on your mobile. Thank you for your sponsorship. Michael Fisher, Belfast Lions Club.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

WALK FOR WIMBLEDON 6

WFFW5 at Barnet April 2012

WFFW5 at Barnet April 2012

Setting off tomorrow (Thursday) on a fundraising 40+ miles walk in the greater London area. It’s called Walk Further for Wimbledon 6 as it is the sixth year such a trek has been undertaken. For me, it is my third year of involvement, having started in April 2011. The idea is to raise funds for our supporter-owned football club AFC Wimbledon and a charity of the walker’s choice. This time any funds for the soccer club will be channelled into a new Community Fund.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!My choice of a separate charity is Diabetes UK (NI) via Belfast Lions Club. In February the Club heard from a representative of the group at its monthly meeting in the Wellington Park Hotel. Nearly 76,000 people in Northern Ireland have a health problem related to diabetes. If you wish to make a donation, please do so through my JustGiving page and if you are a UK taxpayer you can add Gift Aid automatically.

WFFW5 leaving Kingsmeadow

WFFW5 leaving Kingsmeadow

I am flying from Belfast International early in the morning and hoped to join the group of walkers about two miles into the walk near Malden Manor station. They will be setting off from the AFC Wimbledon ground at Kingsmeadow, Norbiton but I will not be able to join them in time for a 9am start, so will pick up the trail about half an hour later, as I did at the O2 in Greenwich two years ago.

Some of the walk is along the London Loop, part of which we walked last year on the way to the match at Underhill in Barnet. This year’s destination is Gillingham FC. A full house of around 11,500 is expected at Priestfield, including 1133 Dons’ fans. Gillingham have already won the title but AFC Wimbledon are dangerously close to the relegation zone as their first season (back) in the Football League comes to an end, with only this game and one home game on Saturday week remaining. Last year I raised £442 and £72 Gift Aid for the Lions International Korle Bu eyesight project in Ghana and I would like to thank once again those who donated so generously. In 2011 my participation in the same walk (which took me past HMS Belfast on the River Thames) raised over £200 for another charity supported by Lions, St Dunstan’s, now known as Blind Veterans UK.

WFFW4 at Kingsmeadow 2011

WFFW4 at Kingsmeadow 2011

DAY ONE of the walk (Thursday) is the longest section from Kingsmeadow to Whyteleafe, around 19 miles, ending with a hilly section around Kenley airfield. Created by dwarfer77

Walk further for Wimbledon 6, Day 1

Walk further for Wimbledon 6, Day 1  19.2 miles / 30.9 km

Walk further for Wimbledon 6, Day 2

Walk further for Wimbledon 6, Day 2  15.4 miles / 24.8 km