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St Thomas of Canterbury and Our House Saints

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St Thomas of Canterbury


St Thomas of Canterbury, also known as Thomas Becket, was born c.1119 at Cheapside, London on 21st December, which is his feast day.

Thomas was forced to earn a living as a clerk to aid his family and he later acquired a position in the household of Theobald of Bec, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Through this, Becket was sent on important missions to Rome, among other places, where he began to study canon law.

In 1154, Theobald name Thomas Archdeacon of Canterbury. He later became Lord Chancellor in 1155, under King Henry II.

Thomas Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry hoped that Becket would continue to put the royal government before the church, but this was not the case. In fact, Becket sought for the church to have more power.

After being put on trial by Henry, Thomas fled to France. Here, Becket threatened to excommunicate Henry.

Eventually, King Henry II allowed Thomas to return to England in 1170. However, after Henry had his son crowned as heir apparent by the Bishops of London and Salisbury, Becket had all three excommunicated.

When he heard this, Henry is said to have muttered words that led to his men believing Henry wanted Thomas Becket killed. Four knights set out to carry out this ‘wish’ and Thomas Becket was slain inside Canterbury Cathedral.

After his death, Thomas was seen as a martyr and he was canonised by Pope Alexander III on 21st February 1173.

St Thomas' feast day is celebrated on 29th December.