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St Thomas More

Saint Thomas More

Saint Thomas More was the son of an English magistrate. Very well educated and endowed with natural brilliance, at age 15 he came to the attention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him to study at Oxford.

His first wife whom he married in 1505 bore him four children, but she died six years later. His second wife, older than him, took excellent care of him and the children.

Thomas tried in Parliament to reduce the excessive taxes which were imposed on the people, and so came under the suspicion of the King Henry VII

When Henry VII died, his 18 year old son, who became Henry VIII in 1509, held him in high regard during the first 20 years of his reign. Saint Thomas was knighted in 1521, became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523, High Steward of Cambridge University in 1525 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the same year.

In spite of all this, Thomas was well aware of what could happen to anyone who did not agree with Henry VIII.

When in 1530 the clergy were ordered to acknowledge Henry VIII as the "Supreme Head of the Church in so far as the law of God would permit", Thomas immediately resigned as Lord Chancellor, but his resignation was not accepted.

Two years later, after several further rejections of the King's actions, he was permitted to retire. That same year, the King, the apostate Archbishop Cranmer and Anne Boleyn, were all excommunicated.

When Henry VIII decided to require of the laity, as well as the clergy, the oath supporting his alleged "supremacy", he wanted to obtain first the signature of Thomas More, to make an example of him. But Thomas held fast and refused to sign. He was then firstly sentenced to incarceration in the Tower of London, and in 1535 was beheaded.

He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII and canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1935, on the 400th anniversary of his death.

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