London: Burns & Oates, 1955. First edition. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Faint crease to spine head of price-clipped dust jacket, else Fine. Item #919
"ASSIST ME WITH YOUR PRAYERS, THAT AT THE VERY POINT OF MY DEATH'S STROKE, AND IN THE VERY MOMENT MY DEATH, I THEN FAINT NOT IN ANY POINT OF THE CATHOLC FAITH FOR ANY FEAR" First edition recounting the life and martyrdom of Saint John Fisher—illustrated with a frontispiece portrait after Holbein and a title page vignette: "Rebus (fish-ear) seal of Saint John Fisher." Working with the Lady Margaret Beaufort (the "saintly mother of King Henry VII") to found Christ's College and St. John's College, Chancellor John Fisher was the "chief glory" of Cambridge University in the last years before the Reformation. Fisher was a lingering presence at Cambridge: St. John's chapel housed a wooden choir stall, carved with the rebus of a fish with an ear of wheat in its mouth (it was later defaced), together with Fisher's motto inscribed on the wall: "Faciam vos Piscatores hominum." Later, as the Bishop of Rochester, the scholarly Fisher was known throughout Europe as a formidable theologian. It was Fisher, almost alone among the English hierarchy, who had strenuously defended Catherine of Aragon during her divorce "trial" from King Henry VIII. This defense angered the King, setting in motion Fisher's eventual trial and conviction on "divers and sundry manifest and detestable high treasons."
Reynolds includes a short Preface discussing the merits of previous biographies of Fisher, most notably Fr. Thomas Bridgett's well-regarded Life of Blessed John Fisher (1888), a corrective of sorts of J.A. Froude's description of Fisher as a "miserable old man" with a "babbling tongue." Saint John Fisher is the successor and companion volume to Reynolds' biography of St. Thomas More (1953). Fisher and More are inextricably linked together in the firmament of Catholic saints. Martyred within days of each other (both men were beheaded rather than hanged, drawn, and quartered), their heads were displayed on London Bridge and they were buried together at St Peter ad Vincula ("the dust of the two saints is united"). Beatified and canonized together, the two saints share the same Feast Day (June 22). The dust jacket is illustrated with a sixteenth century bust on the front panel and an advertisement for Saint Thomas More on the back panel. Additionally illustrated with eight full-page portraits of Fisher, The Lady Margaret Beaufort (the effigy on her tomb in Westminster), Catherine of Aragon, Erasmus of Rotterdam, William Warham (Archbishop of Canterbury), Thomas Wolsey, and Thomas Cromwell. The text concludes with two appendices: A. A Prayer Composed by Saint John Fisher, and B. Saint John Fisher's Relatives. Approbations. Barnes and MacGillivray. Catholic Oxford and Cambridge: The Story of the Universities.