Little Bits of History

Saintly Departure

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 29, 2012
Thomas Becket resting in peace

Thomas Becket resting in peace

December 29, 1170: Thomas Becket is assassinated. He is also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, and Thomas à Becket. He was born around 1118 or possibly 1120 in Cheapside, London. He was born on December 21, the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. His father, Gilbert, was a small landowner or maybe a petty knight. Both parents were of Norman ancestry. The family lived off the rents generated from their land holdings and Gilbert served as sheriff of the city at some point. Thomas was able to spend time at estates in Sussex at the home of a wealthy family friend.

Thomas began his formal education at Merton Priory at age ten. He also attended grammar school in London. He did not study beyond the trivium and quadrivium at these schools (the seven general subjects of a well-rounded education of the time). At age 20, he spent time in Paris. Around this time, his father suffered some financial difficulties and Thomas was compelled to earn his living as a clerk. Eventually he came to work for Theobald of Bec, then the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was entrusted with several missions including being sent to Rome and to Bologna and Auxerre where he finally was able to study canon law.

In 1154 Thomas was named as Archdeacon of Canterbury. This important position led him to the attention of King Henry II and Theobald recommended Thomas for the position of Lord Chancellor for the King who appointed him in January 1155. In that capacity, Thomas enforced the collection of rents for the king, both from secular and religious landowners. Thomas was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry was hopeful that the new Archbishop would continue to put country before God, but Thomas instead made a shift to the ascetic life. Thomas was not ordained as a priest until a couple weeks after he was confirmed as Archbishop.

As Thomas continued to put the church before the King, the King became less enchanted with him. Henry continued to try to weaken the church and finally Thomas was officially asked to submit authority to the King or face repercussions. He refused. Thomas was summoned to appear before the King on a charge of contempt and when Thomas was convicted, he left the trial and fled to the continent. Six years later, Thomas was permitted to return to England and did so. Upon his return, he began to excommunicate his opponents. Henry found out about this and said something that was believed to have been an order of execution. Thomas was pursued, asked to come before the king, and when he refused, he was killed.

Remember the sufferings of Christ, the storms that were weathered… the crown that came from those sufferings which gave new radiance to the faith.

All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown.

Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people.

No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings. – all from Thomas Becket

Also on this day:

The Awakened One – In 1993, the Tian Tan Buddha was consecrated.
Worst in America – In 1876, the Ashtabula Bridge collapsed.
Ooh-La-La – In 1721, Lady Pompadour was born.