Book of Saints – Thomas of Canterbury

detail from a Saint Thomas a Becket holy card, artist unknownArticle

(Saint) Bishop Martyr (December 29) (12th century) Saint Thomas A’Becket, born in London December 21, A.D. 1118, was first educated at Merton Abbey, whence he passed to the University of Paris. Though he had fair prospects in lay-life, he embraced the Ecclesiastical state at the age of twenty-three, and was ordained deacon by Archbishop Theobald (A.D. 1154). Soon after, with the favour of King Henry II, he rose to the high office of Chancellor of the Realm. So well did he acquit himself of his charge that, at the death of Archbishop Theobald, he was promoted to the Archbishopric of Canterbury (A.D. 1162), the King again helping. Nevertheless, Saint Thomas was constrained to spend the remaining eight years of his life in resisting the unjust encroachments of the monarch on the liberties of the Church. He was soon driven into banishment into France, and (a short reconciliation between him and Henry having been brought about) only returned to Canterbury to be attacked, with the King‘s connivance, in his own Cathedral, by four knights, and brutally slain at the foot of the Altar (December 29, A.D. 1170). Popular feeling was wholly with the Martyr, who was canonised as early as A.D. 1173. King Henry was forced to do public penance for his crime; and the Martyr‘s shrine at Canterbury became the most frequented place of pilgrimage in England, and remained so until the change of religion in the sixteenth century.

MLA Citation

  • Monks of Ramsgate. “Thomas of Canterbury”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 December 2016. Web. 20 October 2020. <>