St. Thomas More Martyr (1478-1535)
Thomas More, lawyer, theologian, philosopher, literary scholar and author was a charming, witty man who won the friendship of the King of England, Henry VIII, becoming Lord Chancellor of England, a position next to the king in importance.
Thomas More's life, and especially his death, is a tribute to his integrity. He believed that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ. He steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne
Boleyn. Nor would Thomas More acknowledge Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Church of England. When he refused to sign the Act of Succession stating that the children of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, were rightful heirs to the throne, and the Oath of Supremacy, Henry had him imprisoned, tried, and ultimately beheaded on Tower Hill, London, June 6, 1535.
Thomas More always maintained, "I die the king's good servant, but God's first."
Thomas More was the son of a successful lawyer in London. He had originally planned to be a priest, but later decided to enter law school. He eventually married and had three daughters and a son.
Four hundred years later, in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to the 20th century. The supreme diplomat and counselor, he did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything authority wants. Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he know More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned.