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St Thomas More

Saint Thomas More was born of Sir John and Agnes More on the 6th of February, 1478.

At the age of thirteen, he entered the service of Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was considered to be of sufficient promise, and entered Canterbury College in 1493. Unexpectedly, he was withdrawn from the college by his father two years later, and subsequently he entered Lincoln's Inn, where he later attained the bar and joined Parliment in 1504.

Thomas remained unsure of his vocation in life, but that was settled when he married Jane. They would have four children, and much time would be spent educating his children, both sons and daughters. His was a house of learning, and such scholarly luminaries as Linacre, Fisher and Erasmus spent time there. His fortunes improved with the ascension of Henry VIII, but Jane died in 1510. Within weeks he had remarried, to Alice Middleton, and went on to complete his book "Utopia," in 1514.

Thomas received strong preferment, and ascended to the position of Lord Chancellor in 1529. At this time, Henry VIII had begun to rend asunder the Church with his schismatic and heretical break with Rome over his "divorce" of Catherine of Aragon. Thomas upheld the validity of the marriage, and asked to step aside from the ensuing contraversy. By 1532, Henry had told Rome of his plan to select appointments to Bishoprics before Rome's say so, and released the clergy from any suppression of "heretics". With this, St. Thomas More resigned.

Henry promulgated an oath by which all would recognize the invalidity of his marraige to Catherine, the validity of the offspring of he and Anne Boleyn, and the statement Henry would no longer answer to any foreign authority, prince or potentate. When given the oath to sign, both Sts. Thomas and John Fisher refused to sign, and were cast into the Tower.

St. Thomas spent some fifteen months in the Tower, and two behaviors mark his time there: the quiet acceptance of his imprisonment, and the care and love he shewn his daughter Margaret. Thomas refused the entreaties of hsi family and friends to reconcile with the King, and instead began and completed 'Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation'. This imprisonment quickly indebted his family, and by 1534 his family was near bankrupt.

St. John was beheaded in 1535 for opposing the Supremecy Act of the King. When asked of the Act, St. Thomas refused opinion. He was tried later, where several perjured themselves by saying he opposed the Act, thus saying he commited an act of treason.

Originally the sentence was to die by hanging, drawing and quartering, but it was commuted to a simple beheading. Thomas was led to Tower Hill, where he jested the officials, prayed to the crowd for him, protested that he was dying for the Roman Catholic Church, and said his prayers and recited the Miserere before kissing the headsman. Saint Thomas More was killed with one swift stroke, on the 6th of July, 1535.





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