Tuesday, June 22, 1999
Tuesday, June 22:
Twelfth Tuesday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop and
Feast of the Martyrs Saint John Fisher, Bishop, and Saint Thomas More,
Green or White or Red vestments
First Reading: Genesis 13: 2, 5-18
Psalms: Psalm 15: 1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 7: 6, 12-14
FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, BISHOP
One of the lesser known saints, Saint Paulinus of Nola shares this day with two other saints below: Saint John Fisher and the more well-known Saint Thomas More. Paulinus was a bishop born in 353 in Bordeaux, France. His life took him into politics where he became governor of Campania, Italy after extensive travels throughout France, Spain and Italy. In 381 he met and married a Spanish sweetheart Theresia. Together they vowed to live a strict evangelical life with their tutors being Saint Ambrose and Saint Martin of Tours. Because of their influence, Paulinus was baptized in 389 and moved to Spain. After the death of his first child Celsus, Paulinus decided to forsake all his worldly possessions for a monastic life. However, urged on by the people and receiving a special dispensation from Rome, he was ordained a priest in 394 in Barcelona, Spain. Shortly after that he retired to Nola, Italy south of Naples and their founded a small monastery with his wife who also had vowed a life of celibacy. Together they worked, setting up a hospice and caring for the sick and meeting the needs of pilgrims to the shrine of Saint Felix. Because of his work he was appointed Bishop of Nola in 409 and died 22 years later in the same city.
FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN FISHER AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, MARTYRS
Both saints were beheaded by the rebellious king of England Henry VIII because they refused to disobey Rome. For their obedience to God and not man they were welcomed into the Heavenly realm in 1535.
Saint John Fisher, born in Yorkshire, England in 1469, became a priest at the age of 25 after graduating cum laude from Cambridge University. His claim to fame was his brilliant defense of the Faith against the
attacks of Martin Luther. Because of his expertise in both theology and the humanistic arts, he was appointed Chancellor at Cambridge in 1504 and later became the Bishop of Rochester. Soon after he was summoned by Queen Elizabeth of York, mother of Henry VIII, to minister to the royals where he emphasized a monastic austerity in their prayer life and an insistence on the Liturgy of the Hours by all. Though he
was beloved by Elizabeth, he was resented by Henry who had succumbed to the world, the flesh and the devil. When Bishop Fisher officially proclaimed Henry's first marriage valid after Henry tried to annull it, the good bishop was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1533. Given another chance by Henry to refute what he had proclaimed and to take an oath of loyalty to the King of England over the Pope of Rome, Fisher who had been appointed a Cardinal while in prison by Pope Paul III refused, condemning the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn. For this he was beheaded, receiving his crown of martyrdom.
While John Fisher was a Cambridge grad, Saint Thomas More was an Oxford man, having studied law. Born in 1477 in London, Thomas was married twice. With his first wife he had four children. After she died, he remarried for the welfare of his children. After John Fisher had been imprisoned, Henry VIII appointed Thomas the new Chancellor, a position at that time which was second only to the king. He succeeded Cardinal Wolsey. The ribald king had thought that by placing a layman in this position he could further distance himself from Rome and better control the Church of England. But Thomas More was a holy man who owed his allegiance to the King of Kings before the king of England. More than a few times when summoned by Henry while Thomas was attending Holy Mass, Thomas replied by messenger: "As soon as my audience with the King of Heaven is ended, I will at once obey the desire of my earthly king." This did not sit well with Henry who was determined to have his own way. When Henry proclaimed himself head of the Church of England, Thomas, who also was opposed to the king's divorce, abstained from taking the oath and resigned as Chancellor, refusing to recognize Henry's spiritual supremacy before God. Like John Fisher's fate, Henry retaliated vehemently and had Thomas imprisoned in the same Tower of London where he too was beheaded shortly after St. John Fisher in 1535, joining the ranks of martyrdom for the One, True Faith.