MEMORIAL: DECEMBER 29
St. Thomas Becket was born in the 12th century to a privileged family in London. He was a highly educated young man, eventually studying at the University of Paris. After his parents died, Becket found a job working in the household of the Bishop of Canterbury. It was here that his love for the Church grew. He went on to study canon law and became the Archdeacon of Canterbury.
Because of his proven ability in the house of the Archbishop, Becket was named chancellor or chief minister of the throne. Beckett served King Henry well by guiding him with counsel and even leading knights in war for him. Because of this, Henry and Becket became great friends. When the Archbishop of Catuerbury died, the King told Becket that he would make him the Archbishop. Becket warned against this, fortelling that he and the King would be in opposition, but the king would not listen and Becket became the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Initially, their friendship remained, but as the issues of Church and State clashed, a rift began to form. Taxes and the rights of clergy put the King and Becket at odds. Even though Becket opposed the King, he had moments where he gave into the King dishonoring his position as Archbishop. Eventually Beckett left the country out of fear of the King. In the audience of the Pope, he was reconciled for his failures as archbishop. He then made temporary peace with the King and returned to his position. However as Becket defended the Church’s rights against the state, four knights took exception and attacked Beckett, killing him in his own cathedral. St. Thomas was celebrated as a martyr and is known as the protector of secular clergy.