St. Thomas Becket
Podcast © Franciscan MediaSaint Thomas Becket, the well-known archbishop of Canterbury, England, is a saint with a checkered past. As depicted in the movie "Becket," Thomas did not at first take his responsibilities as a deacon seriously, but when King Henry II tried to use his friend’s lukewarm devotion to his advantage, he found a converted cleric who was a worthy match for any king.
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St. Thomas Becket
St. Thomas Becket
Happy #Feastday #StThomasBecket He engaged in conflict with Henry II of England over the rights & privileges of the Church & was murdered by followers of the King https://t.co/qOCQ4Mvke0 pic.twitter.com/ZP2UlRuew1— Portraits of Saints (@SaintPortraits) December 29, 2020
St. Thomas Becket, English martyr, pray for us! pic.twitter.com/Mi7Y9Q4wV0— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) December 29, 2020
Reminder: novena to St Thomas Becket begins next Monday, 21 Dec.— Fr John S. Hogan, ocds (@jshocds) December 17, 2020
I hope you’ll join us, particularly as this is the 850th anniversary of his martyrdom: 29 Dec 1170.
Offer him your intentions, he has always listened to the prayers of those in need.
The hashtag: #BecketNovena2020 pic.twitter.com/31eiH7z4E4
850 years ago...17/18 Dec 1170.— Fr John S. Hogan, ocds (@jshocds) December 18, 2020
On his way to Canterbury, St Thomas Becket was given relics of martyrs Ss Lawrence, Vincent & Cecilia by one of his priests. St Lawrence appeared to the priest & with a message for Thomas to prove veracity of the vision. A sign martyrdom was coming pic.twitter.com/bdKy7ox3Cj
At the end of Day 1 of #BecketNovena2020 we pray:— Fr John S. Hogan, ocds (@jshocds) December 21, 2020
Lord God, in your providence you guide us; in your grace, transform us. Through the intercession of St Thomas, whom you purified in trial & suffering, grant me the humility to embrace that poverty which will open my heart to you pic.twitter.com/YZnytxOSb7
St. Thomas Becket
Saint Stories for all ages
Thomas was a tall, handsome, intelligent, young legal clerk. He had a magnetic personality and made friends easily. His remarkable memory and business ability attracted the attention of the archbishop. The archbishop brought him to Canterbury. Noticing that Thomas was an excellent speaker and could solve complicated problems, he felt Thomas would be a good match for the King of England, Henry II. At the archbishop’s recommendation, Thomas was made chancellor of England, a post he held for eight years.
Thomas loved his life. He spent money on clothes, entertainment, hunting, and good times. A strong friendship developed between him and the king. Unfortunately Henry II wanted complete control of his kingdom, including the Church. He wanted to take some powers away from the Church, and he needed an archbishop to support him. Henry believed Thomas could do this. Thomas objected to the plan, but Henry had his way. Thomas became archbishop of Canterbury.
Faced with the responsibility of leading the people of God, Thomas changed his manner of living. He resigned as chancellor, sold his mansion, and went to live in a monastery. He sold his rich clothes and furnishings and gave the money to the poor. His personality was the same, but more noticeable were his generosity and determination to protect the Church. Thomas opposed Henry’s taxation of the Church. He refused to allow Henry to make Church appointments that suited him and blocked his other attempts to control the Church.
Thomas Becket was the son of a rich London merchant. He grew up to be very powerful. He was archbishop of Canterbury and chancellor to King Henry II. However, he later fell out of favor with the king and was murdered.
When Henry II became king in 1154 he asked Archbishop Theobald who he should choose to be members of his government. Theobald recommended Thomas Becket. The king then made Becket his chancellor. A chancellor was an important member of the government. Becket prepared writs (legal documents) and royal charters. He also served as England’s representative on trips to other countries and led Henry’s armies into battle.
Teaching History 100
Here are two ideas for activities encouraging close observation of the object to support its interpretation.
- Show an image of the alabaster panel showing Becket’s murder in For the classroom. Ask your students to look closely and to say what they think is happening in the picture. Who might the characters be, and how can they tell? Where might the action be taking place, and how do they know this? if you are just starting the topic ask what other information they would want to find out in order to understand the image. The British Museum mini-lesson on reliquaries and pilgrimage can support you here with specific questions.
- Before telling your students what is happening in the scene, divide them into groups and provide each with the three other images depicting Becket’s martyrdom – see For the classroom and the two caskets in A bigger picture. Ask each group to find similarities and differences between the images. Do they still think the characters, setting and action are the same as on the alabaster? Ask them to look closely at each object, including the alabaster: what materials are they made from, can they suggest where they might have been seen?