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Peter Paul Rubens, Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket.

Feast of Saint Thomas Becket

(1118-1170)

St. Thomas Becket, also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury, was the son of a prosperous London merchant. Being a well-educated youth, he was appointed as clerk to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was later made Archdeacon. In this role he met and became close friends with King Henry II of England. The King promoted Becket to the office of Lord Chancellor, and, when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, made Becket the new Archbishop in 1162, the most powerful ecclesiastical position in all of England. King Henry II supposed that having his close friend in such a position would enable him to enforce his will on the Church. However, in his new role as priest and archbishop, Thomas Becket experienced a religious conversion and transferred his ultimate allegiance to the Church. This led to frequent conflicts over the rights of the Church between the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, resulting in Becket’s exile. When Becket returned to England, he was murdered by four knights, the king’s lackeys, as he was offering Mass at the Canterbury Cathedral altar on December 29, 1170. St. Thomas Becket’s feast day is December 29th.
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All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown.”

Saint Thomas Becket
Murder of Thomas Becket; Thomas Becket being murdered by four knights in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170. Image from Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) by Hartmann Schedel, Nuremberg, 1493.

Follow the saints because those who follow them will become saints.”

Saint Clement I, pope
John Opie’s Murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, painted about 1793. Picture: Canterbury City Council

Saint Thomas Becket, martyr, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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