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The Great Cloud of Witnesses

St. Thomas a' Becket
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

St. Thomas a' Becket

December 29

St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170), also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury, was the son of a prosperous London merchant. Being a well-educated youth, he was appointed as clerk to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was later made Archdeacon. In this role he met and became close friends with King Henry II of England. The King promoted Becket to the office of Lord Chancellor, and, when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, made Becket the new Archbishop in 1162, the most powerful ecclesiastical position in all of England. King Henry II supposed that having his close friend in such a position would enable him to enforce his will on the Church. However, in his new role as priest and archbishop, Thomas Becket experienced a religious conversion and transferred his ultimate allegiance to the Church. This led to frequent conflicts over the rights of the Church between the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, resulting in Becket's exile. When Becket returned to England, he was murdered by four knights, the king's lackeys, as he was offering Mass at the Canterbury Cathedral altar on December 29, 1170. St. Thomas Becket's feast day is December 29th.

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