Twice a week I post a quote from saints from the Episcopal Calendar of Saints that week. They are to be meditative and mindful, playful and thought inducing. I hope they are helpful in your spiritual journeys.
Thomas Becket (1118 - 1170)
Archbishop and Martyr
On December 29, we remember Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, slain in his own cathedral in 1170, for his defiance of King Henry II.
The issue here, or one of the issues, was one of court jurisdiction. King Henry claimed that a cleric accused of an ordinary crime ought to be tried in the King's Courts like any layman. Thomas, who was Henry's Chancellor and his close friend, vigorously upheld the king's position. However, when he was made Archbishop of Canterbury with the king's support, he reversed himself completely and upheld the right of clergy to be tried only in Church courts, which could not inflict capital punishment. (This reversal does not imply fickleness or treachery. As Chancellor, Thomas was bound to serve the king. Now, as Archbishop, he was bound to defend the Church.)
Henry, being angered at opposition from someone whom he had counted on for support, was heard to exclaim in anger, "This fellow who has eaten my bread has lifted up his heel against me [see Psalm 41:9]. Have I no friend who will rid me of this upstart priest?" Four of his knights promptly rode to Canterbury, where they confronted the Archbishop and demanded that he back down. When he did not, they killed him.
T. S. Eliot wrote a play, Murder in the Cathedral, about Becket. In 1959 Jean Anouilh wrote the play Becket, which was later made into a 1964 film starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.