Martyr and Patron of Lawyers and Politicians: 1478-1535
+ Thomas was born in London and educated at Oxford. A lawyer by training, he was eventually elected to Parliament.
+ In 1504, he married Jane Colt and the couple had 4 children. Following her death, he married Alice Middleton. Thomas was a dedicated husband and father and revered as a witty and brilliant man.
+ In 1529, King Henry VIII appointed More to serve as Chancellor of England. More resigned three years later when Henry persisted in pursuing his divorce and break with the Church of Rome. He spent the remainder of his life working to defend the Church and, in 1534, he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy which would have acknowledged Henry as head of the Church in England.
+ Thomas More was subsequently arrested and convicted of treason. On July 6, 1535, only nine days after the execution of his friend, Cardinal John Fisher, he was beheaded. As he was led to the scaffold, he proclaimed that he remained “the King’s good servant—but God’s first.”
+ Thomas More and John Fisher were canonized together in 1935 and their common liturgical commemoration is celebrated on June 22, the anniversary of Fisher’s execution.
Thomas More is remembered for his celebrated and controversial novel Utopia. In the book, he contrasts life in 16th-century Europe with the perfect, orderly social order in the fictional land Utopia. The book embodies many of the values of the Renaissance humanists and the tension they felt as they saw the corruption and decadence of the world around them.
“Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”—St. Thomas More (in a letter written from prison to his daughter, Margaret)
O God, who in martyrdom
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
that, strengthened through the intercession
of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More,
we may confirm by the witness of our life
the faith we profess with our lips.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.