ST. THOMAS BECKET OF CANTERBURY
FEAST DAY: DECEMBER 29TH
[The following is from the book PICTORIAL LIVE OF THE SAINTS, COPILED FROM "BUTLER'S LIVES" AND OTHER APPROVED SOURCES., BENZIGER BROTHERS, PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE.
THOMAS, son of Gilbert Becket, was born in Southwark, England,
A.D. 1117. When a youth he was attached to the household of Theobald, Archbishop
of Canterbury, who sent him to Paris and Bologna to study law. He became
Archdeacon of Canterbury, then Lord High Chancellor of England; and in 1160,
when Archbishop Theobald died, the king insisted on the consecration of St
Thomas in his stead. St. Thomas refused, warning the king that from that hour
their friendship would be broken. In the end he yielded, and was consecrated.
The conflict at once broke out; St. Thomas resisted the royal customs, which
violated the liberties of the Church and the laws of the realm. After six years
of contention, partly spent in exile, St. Thomas, with full foresight of
martydom before him, returned as a good shepherd to his Church. On the 29th of
December, 1170, just as vespers were beginning, four knights broke into the
cathedral, crying: "Where is the archbishop? where is the traitor?" The monks
fled, and St. Thomas might easily have escaped. But he
advanced, saying : "Here I am—no traitor, but archbishop. What seek you ?" "Your
life," they cried. "Gladly do I give it," was the reply; and bowing his head,
the invincible martyr was hacked and hewn till his soul went to God. Six months
later Henry II. submitted to be publicly scourged at the Saint's shrine, and
restored to the Church her full rights.
REFLECTION.-"Learn from St. Thomas," says Father Faber, "to fight the good fight even to the shedding of blood, or, to what men find harder, the shedding of their good name by pouring it out to waste on the earth."
INTERCESSORY PRAYER: Today, ask Saint Thomas to help us be courageous witnesses of the Catholic faith.
MORE ON SAINT THOMAS BECKET FROM BUTLER'S LIVES OF THE SAINTS