We desire moreover that with your ardent prayers, invoking the patronage of the new Saints, you ask of the Lord that which is so dear to Our heart, namely that England, in the words of St. Paul, "meditating the happy consummation which crowned the life" of those two martyrs, may "follow them in their faith," and return to the Father’s house "in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God."
I think that More usually gets more attention, probably because of the man for all seasons fame, but that Fisher, with even deeper links to the Tudor family (preacher at the funerals of both Henry VIII's father and grandmother) and more consistent and open opposition to Henry's plans to take over the Church and push through his marital arrangement, is just as interesting. He was a humanist, a bishop, a serious defender of Church teaching, and an admired churchman in his lifetime. In his death he demonstrated the same dignity and holiness.
Under the heading of "Even Homer Nods" Eamon Duffy discusses C.S. Lewis' lack of understanding of St. John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester:
St John Fisher's place in the history of English spirituality, like his place in the history of English humanism, is obscured by problems of definition. So austere a figure challenges expectations derived from the identification of the cause of the new learning (and the new piety) with Erasmus. Historians have therefore been tempted to describe his relation to the movements of the early sixteenth century in terms of contrast, rather than participation. Whether the polarities employed are those of ‘medieval’ as opposed to ‘Renaissance’, or ‘unreformed’ as opposed to ‘reformed’, the temptation is to opt for a single all-purpose descriptive category. C. S. Lewis, in what remains the most helpful brief account of Fisher as a religious writer, succumbs to temptation on both scores. Fisher, he claimed, ‘is almost a purely medieval writer, though scraps of what may be classified as humanistic learning appear in his work’, but ‘he matters less as a literary figure than as a convenient representative of the religion in possession at the very beginning of the English Reformation. He was a bishop and died for his faith: in him we ought to find what men like Tyndale were attacking.’ For a mere historian to quarrel with Lewis about a matter of literature might seem as foolhardy as the attempt to anatomise the spirituality of a saint. Yet one may well feel that in Lewis's easy contrasts something has been omitted. It does not seem very useful to characterise any one figure as ‘representative’ of so complex a reality as late-medieval English religion.
This is an excerpt from the beginning of Eamon Duffy's chapter on "The Spirituality of John Fisher" in the book Humanism, Reformation and Reform: The Career of Bishop John Fisher, edited by Duffy and Brendan Bradshaw, published by Cambridge University Press. I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show from Sacred Heart Radio in Cincinnati broadcast on the EWTN radio network this morning to discuss this feast day--at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central.