Friday, 5 March 2010

Titular Church of Cardinal Fisher

A post on NLM alerts us that today's stational Church in Rome is San Vitale. I remember visiting this Church which is just off the busy Via Nazionale - the main route from the Station area to the historic centre of Rome.

One of the curiosities in this Church is a painting of St Ignatius of Antioch standing by the Colosseum. In a delightful anachronism the artist painted it as it was in his time - already ruined.

The most important thing about this Church for Englishmen, however, is that it was the titular Church of St John Fisher. Pope Paul III created him a cardinal in the hope that Henry VIII might be embarrassed into changing his mind about Fisher's execution. The wicked King's famous reply was:
"Yea, is he yet so lusty? Let the Pope send him a hat when he will, but I shall provide that whensoever it cometh, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head he shall have none to set it on."
St John Fisher is the only Cardinal to have suffered martyrdom, thus being enpurpled by his blood before he was able to wear the robes. As our old school hymn put it:
Alone of thy peers thou didst brook the displeasure
Of King and his court, God’s law to proclaim;
The indomitable Dan Cooper will be pleased at me quoting that stanza.
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