St. Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket was the chancellor of England under King Henry II and was later appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury. Thomas lived in a world where religion and political power intersected.

Thomas and King Henry were friends, and Thomas became chancellor at the age of 36. King Henry later decided it would be to his advantage to have an archbishop who was sympathetic to the demands of the king. Thomas warned Henry that he might not go along with everything the king proposed, but he was made archbishop anyway.

King Henry began to take away rights from the Church in a document called the Constitutions of Claredon. At first Thomas agreed to compromise, but then realized that the Constitutions should not be approved. He rejected them. Fearing Henry’s anger at this action, Thomas went into exile in France. He spent seven years there.

He returned to England, where he knew he would probably face death for speaking out against the king’s proposals.

King Henry famously said, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” Four of the king’s knights who heard this went to Canterbury Cathedral and martyred Thomas on December 29, 1170.

Patron Saint of …

St. Thomas Becket is the patron saint of secular clergy, such as diocesan priests.

Mass Readings for the Optional Memorial of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr

  • First Reading2 Timothy 2:8-13; 3:10-12: “Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.”
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 34: “The Lord delivered me from all my fears.”
  • GospelMatthew 16:24-27: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

Quotes and Social Media Graphics

It is dangerous for men in power if no one dares to tell them when they go wrong.

St. Thomas Becket

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