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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saint Thomas Becket - December 29

Saint Thomas Becket
December 29
Bishop and Martyr
1117 – 1170

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work."
(Philippians 2:12-13)

Born in London around 1117, Thomas Becket was made chancellor of England at age 36 by his good friend King Henry II. Thomas made it clear to Henry that he might not always be in agreement with all of the king’s decrees, but by age 45 Thomas was raised by King Henry II to the position of archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1164, King Henry II decreed that all clergy would be held accountable to secular courts, Thomas objected. His continual defense of the Church against King Henry II’s wishes forced Thomas into exile in France.

In 1170, Thomas returned to London but his conflict with the king could not be settled. At this point King Henry II is reported to have said, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four of his knights took him at his word and murdered Thomas in the Canterbury Cathedral December 29, 1170. His murder angered many in England, as a result, numerous people made pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral where several miracles were reported. Saint Thomas Becket stood firm in defense of truth and right, even at the cost of his life, he was canonized in 1173.

Remember then how our fathers worked out their salvation; remember the
sufferings through which the Church has grown, and the storms the ship of Peter has weathered because it has Christ on board. Remember how the crown was attained by those whose sufferings gave new radiance to their faith. The whole company of saints bears witness to the unfailing truth that without real effort no one wins the crown.” Saint Thomas Becket

The Mocking of Saint Thomas of Canterbury - Master Francke
King Henry II Speaking with Saint Thomas Becket - Peter Langtoft
The Martyrdom of Saint Thomas of Canterbury - Master Francke

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