Patron of Lawyers and Jurists, Martyr

February 7, c.  1477
------ July 6, 1535

Feast Day: July 6 [Traditional], June 22 [New]

"The King's good servant-----but God's first!"
"O Lord, if it be Thy will, give me a share in Thy chalice."

Saint Thomas More was a man of subtle complexity, yet utterly humble. The son of a lawyer, the Londoner, Sir John More, he, too would take the bar. By the age of 32 he was already accomplished, having completed his education at Oxford. As a layman in the London soon to be drenched with the blood of Catholic Martyrs, he practiced the self-denial and piety of the Carthusian Monks, which was a blessing since he would follow them to Martyrdom; he then married and had four children while holding several influential posts-----administrator, ambassador, judge, counselor, in particular personal counsel to Henry, and was known as a scholar.  But he was for all practical purposes "a commoner" because he so readily identified with the poor and those who suffered injustice at the hands of the powerful. The little man, dispossessed and ignored, could count on a "friend" at court. An amiable, naturally kind man, he would earn his reputation as a strong debater, regardless of whose egos might be bruised, because the truth and the justice that it engenders was his hallmark.

One could say he had the misfortune of serving under King Henry VIII.  That is, if one were a worldly person with little or no Catholic sense. In fact it was God's magnificent will that Sir Thomas would exchange the title, Sir, for Saint and Martyr through the aegis of the King. Henry had appointed Thomas to replace  Cardinal Wolsey as  Lord Chancellor, the highest government post at the time. Although he knew instinctively that Sir Thomas would not support his move to divorce Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain, in order to marry the scheming concubine Ann Boleyn, he thought that he would be able to circumvent any objections from his new Lord Chancellor. The year was 1529 and Henry was coming to the conclusion that the Holy See in Rome would never grant his "annulment" and that he would have to subvert the authority of the Holy Catholic Church by superseding her, in effect becoming his own Pope with his own hijacked Church complete with many intimidated prelates [the threat of execution] and all her holdings in England.

There are often two opposing viewpoints about the King Henry-Sir Thomas More affair, with no room for the complexity of the legal mind of our Martyr. One side insists that he died "for freedom of conscience" which is far from reality, and the other that he was either cowardly or not cowardly enough, so to speak. The latter was held by his wife, although to be sure she would have used another description for the husband she loved so intensely, and by some of his friends. Those who judged him a coward belonged to what could be characterized as "legal Jansenists" who thought he should have taken the same approach as Bishop John Fisher, although in the end they both gave their lives as Catholics and were canonized. God creates us with unique personalities that influence individual actions that lead to heroic sanctity.

Briefly, this is what happened: You are also referred to St. John Fisher's directory.

Henry asked the sainted Bishop and Saint John Houghton, a Carthusian, and Prior of the London Charterhouse to take the oath that Henry was the supreme head of the Catholic Church in England, which they refused, denouncing his claim as heresy itself, which, of course it was. When Sir Thomas was asked to swear to the same oath, he simply refused, without lambasting Henry as a heretic. Being a layman he had the idea, and it is not without merit, that to boldly chance Martyrdom when it can be avoided is "to tempt God", especially since it is primarily the duty and purview of the clergy to instruct as to heresy and contempt of scared things. He said:

"God made the Angels to show Him splendor------as He made animals for innocence
and plants for their simplicity. But man He made to serve Him wittily, in the
tangle of his mind! If He suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping,
then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and yes, then we may clamor
like champions."

Now Thomas had the spirituality of a Franciscan working among men and not that of a contemplative monk. And it was not that he had no theological temperament and a grasp of doctrine, for indeed he was learned and had written treatises in defense of the Faith against the blasphemous claims of Martin Luther, whom he referred to as "a raving baboon." In fact he early on realized the central importance of the Holy Mass and that everything else depends on how it fares. It was that his comprehension of the nature of the authority of the Papacy was less developed and certain, especially since at that time the arrangements between Church and state were such as they had been for centuries, with kings appointing bishops, if not consecrating them.

In his retort to Luther he argued that the Church was unified by faith, not by charity, because: 1) the Church had to be visible like its incarnate founder, and charity was impossible to see, whereas a man's faith could be seen as orthodox or heretical. And 2) because the Church contained sinners (lacking charity) as well as Saints.  Further, he  refuted Luther's notion of the utter equality of all believers: No, he said------the Church is given real authority because it is the body of Christ, to Whom has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, and this authority is conferred differently to different members of the Church. Thus authority in the Church is a very immediate result of its Divine foundation. And if authority is real, so is obedience. Obedience is not a tactic for muddling through various obstacles, but is a positive, central, sometimes heroic virtue for those who would imitate Him Who was obedient unto death.

When More spoke of "the tangle of a man's mind" it was in regard to conscience, but he did not mean the kind of conscience that is formed out of a private law made up by oneself in order to justify disobedience. His "tangle' to form conscience to was to discover most carefully what the Church meant by the supremacy of Peter, and then form his mind to that of the mind of Christ. He took great pains to understand what he was being asked by God to do and until he discerned this with certainty he opted for silent refusal rather than outright decrying the matter.

Actually Henry was asking him to obey an illicit order, not argue his authority per se as King of the realm. But to accomplish this in fidelity to the Faith he had to refuse to follow Henry into heresy, dissent and the eventual folly of novelty. Henry took this as an affront to his authority, as if to deny his kingship. More always said he was the King's good servant but God's first, that is he served another King under whom all other kings must submit in obedience to their Creator. This new quandary for a devout Catholic who found himself having to defy an illegal order of a legitimate  monarch required a special name, RECUSANT, that is, a technical legal term which came to designate in general a Catholic who for reasons of faith refused orders of the civil authority, and in particular a Catholic who disobeyed the civil law which required him to attend services of the Anglican religion. He disobeyed not in a spirit of disobedience but in a spirit of fidelity and submission to a higher law, that of Divine law.

Now, some background details in the tragic downfall of Henry, once a staunch defender of the Faith, whose moral lapses and cruelty were not to be undone by his hubris, and who would serve to impel Thomas More to Sainthood.

The source for this segment is:

THE RISE AND GROWTH OF THE ANGLICAN SCHISM by the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Sander, who was ordained in 1562. The work in English-----the original was in Latin-----was first published in 1877. After each paragraph the number in brackets is the page from which it was excerpted. The work has been re-released by Tan Books. The above link will take you to the exact page where it is listed for sale, a bargain at 18.00, for the book is almost 400 pages with a summary of the Schism called the Annals of the Schism. We retained the original English usage.

Everybody was at this time talking of the divorce. All those urged it on in every way who thought that their advancement could be secured only by disturbances, for they saw a road open to the highest honours through the divorce. On the other hand, those who confessed the faith, loving only the truth, defended the cause of the queen, abandoned openly by men, as the most just. Books were everywhere written-----some in defence of the marriage, others against it. One of the books attacking the marriage ,vas presented to the king, and read in the presence of many bishops in the palace of Cardinal Wolsey, but most of the prelates dared say nothing either in favour of the truth or in condemnation of the king beyond this, that there were passages in the book which might reasonably make the king scrupulous about the marriage of himself and queen Catherine. Every good man, and every learned man, was strongly against the divorce, and hardly anybody but the impious and the ignorant favoured it; nor was the king so dull as not to see that his cause met with grave opposition, and was in peril of being lost. [31]

He sends for Thomas More, whom he knew to be a man of the highest ability, exceedingly learned and perfectly honest, and asks him his opinion about the marriage. More at the time was a member of the council, but he was not yet chancellor. He answered candidly that he did not at all approve of the divorce. Henry did not like the answer, but he would leave no stone unturned to serve his purpose, so he promised the highest rewards to Sir Thomas if he would conform his view to that of the king, and then commanded him to take counsel on the subject with Dr. Fox, provost, of King's College, Cambridge. This Dr. Fox was the most zealous of all the promoters of the divorce. But so far from changing his opinion after the conference was More, that he would have urged the king with far greater freedom not to put away his wife, if he had the opportunity; but the king never touched upon the subject again, though in other affairs the services of More were regarded above those of all others. The king used to say that if Sir Thomas More were won over to his side, it would do more for him than the assent of half his kingdom.   . . . [31-32]

. . . Henry was held back not so much by his respect for the laws of the Church as by his fear of the emperor Charles V; for he knew too well that the emperor would not patiently endure the divorce of his aunt, and that his own subjects would be angry if he entered into new and questionable relations with the French, and deserted the ancient alliance of the house of Burgundy, with which they were bound by the gainful bonds of trade. He saw also that men loved and admired the queen for her goodness, while Anne Boleyn was everywhere regarded as a woman of unclean life, and that Wolsey, his chief minister, was not so earnest in the matter as he had been; and last of all, he remembered the account he had one day to give before the judgment-seat of God. The thought of this pursued him night and day; he could come to no decision, and was unable to sleep. Whether he had friends he knew not, but he was certain he had enemies; and besides this, his own conscience condemned him, and he regarded his life as joyless.  [33]

But when he could not indulge his passions except on the condition of making Anne Boleyn his wife, and was by some told that his marriage with Catherine was against law, knowing also that he had rendered such services to Pope Clement, in return for which he might confidently expect that the Pope would do for him all that he, was asking him to do, and that both the neighbouring princes and his own subjects would yield before the authority of the Pope, he doggedly made up his mind, overcome by his passions, to put Catherine away, to make Anne his wife, and disregard the emperor, then . . . And certainly if the Roman Pontiff were not he whom, because he sits in the see of Peter, the effectual prayer of Christ Himself
has made strong in the faith (St. Luke xxii. 32), there was every appearance that Clement would have yielded in everything to the wishes of the king. [33-34]

While the king was thus tormented, Wolsey was also troubled in the same way, carried to and fro in the tumult of his thoughts. At one moment he was glad to see the emperor slighted by the king, at another grieved at the elevation of Anne Boleyn to the highest rank. At one time he was afraid the king would dismiss him with contempt and find other means to obtain the divorce, at another time he hoped that the king's passion for Anne Boleyn would die out, and that he might be persuaded to marry the sister of the most Christian king. Anyhow the Cardinal, domineered by his lust of power, forced himself to satisfy the desires of the king.  . . . [34]

. . . Thomas Cranmer, from the household of Anne Boleyn, was chosen as judge by the plaintiff in the suit on the condition of pronouncing the sentence of divorce.  He  . . . boldly  declared that the king was bound by the Divine law to put Catherine away, and that he was free to marry again. But Henry himself, holding the judge and the sentence in his own hand, and knowing well what the end would be, had already married Anne Boleyn, though he had put off the solemn celebration of the wedding till Easter Eve. Anne therefore was on that day, the day kept in honour of our Lord's burial, the 12th of April (1533), brought forth before the world as the king's wife, and on the 2d of June next following was crowned, and on the 7th day of September, in the same year, in the fifth month after the marriage was publicly celebrated, gave birth to Elizabeth, Henry's child. It is clear, therefore, that there must have been a secret marriage.  [109-110]

Elizabeth was baptized at Greenwich, and then the king called upon every bishop, and upon every person in orders, upon all the nobles, and upon every Englishman whatsoever of full age, to take an oath that Elizabeth ,vas the next and the lawful heir to the kingdom of England. At the same time he robbed Mary, the daughter of Catherine, as being the issue of a marriage that was unlawful, of her right to the throne. That oath was tendered to John Fisher, the bishop of Rochester, and to Thomas More. The latter seeing the king rushing headlong into all wickedness, had not long before resigned the chancellorship. They refused to take the oath, and were thrown into prison. As Sir Thomas More was led into the Tower of London, the warder of the prison was standing at the gate, and as usual demanded the upper garments of the prisoner. Sir Thomas, who was always cheerful, took off his cap and handed it to him at once; but the warder said, "I do not mean this, but the cloak which you have on." " Surely," said Sir Thomas, "the cap is the upper garment, for it covers the upper part of the body." Thus this saintly man, at the very doors of the prison, which to most men is full of terror, amused himself as if he were at a feast. He used to say that the world at large, into which man was driven when banished out of Paradise because of sin, was nothing else but a prison, out of which men are called every day to answer for themselves. His prison was smaller than the prisons of other great men, and he thanked God for it, for of those things which are not pleasant the least is preferable. His blessed soul cheered itself with thoughts of this kind. [110-111]

At this time the name of the nun Anne Barton (a virtuous religious, who had foretold that Catherine's daughter Mary would reign before Elizabeth------the Web Master) was in all men's mouths. She said that Henry was no longer a king, because he reigned not of God; . . . by an act of Parliament she was condemned and put to death, together with two Bendictines and two Franciscans, all of whom believed her to have spoken, moved by the spirit of God. [111-112]

Note from the Web Master: It is rather ironic that all five of them were charged with the crime of heresy, "heresy" to disapprove of scandal and "sin" to announce the unplanned for result.

Sir Thomas More, among others, had carefully tested the spirit of the nun, and was unable to discover in it any trace of that fanaticism which was maliciously laid to her charge at the time. What is certain is this, that she said that in due time things would come to pass which were at that time regarded as impossible; for Mary, who then was made to give way to Elizabeth, came afterwards to the throne before her, and in her own right. [112]

Out of all the clergy, none withstood the divorce with greater freedom than the Friars minor, commonly called the Observants. They, indeed, both in public disputations, and in their sermons, most earnestly maintained that the marriage of Catherine was lawful . . . For this the king so hated all the Friars of the Obeservance, that  . . . he drove them out of every monastery of their order . . . [113]

 . . . Parliament assembled, and Henry, for the purpose of revenging himself still more upon the Pope, took away from him all jurisdiction and power over the English and the Irish, and declared every one who should henceforth acknowledge the Pope's jurisdiction guilty of high treason. He made an onslaught on the word Pope, and gave orders that for the future the Roman Pontiff should be called, not the Pope, but the bishop of Rome only. He himself, the king alone, was to be considered supreme head of the Anglican Church, to whom above all others it belonged, by his full authority, to correct all errors, heresies, and abuses in the Church of England. The first-fruits of all benefices were to be paid to him, and also the tithes of all ecclesiastical dignities. The king had the laws executed with such severity that a man might be condemned to death if he left unerased the name of the Pope in any book belonging to him. The  name of the Pope was blotted out of all calendars, indexes, the fathers, the canon law, and the schoolmen. People were forced to write in the beginning of their copies of the works of St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustin, St. Leo, St. Gregory, and St. Prosper, that if the books contained anything in defence or confirmation of the authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, they rejected that word, opinion, or reason at once, and would not be guilty of so great a crime.

Most of the bishops and the other prelates whose duty it was to withstand these things, from the first thought it best to give way for a time till the king changed his mind, or some Catholic prince came to the rescue of the Christian religion. But they waited in vain for the emperor or any other, for they had sinned so grievously against God and their neighbour. Still there was a holy remnant left in the land, which had utterly refused to bend the knee before Baal.  [115, emphasis added.]


 ON the 29th day of April, [1535] five most saintly men entered the glorious lists for Christ. Of these, three were priors of three monasteries of the Carthusians: 1, John Houghton, 2 prior of London; Robert Laurence, prior of Beauvale; and Augustin Webster, prior of Axholme. [See The Litany of the Forty English Martyrs] They would not acknowledge the impious supremacy claimed by Henry VIII in the Church, and for their refusal they obtained the palm of Martyrdom.  . . . [117]

[The other two priests were the Brigittine monk of the abbey of Sion, and John Hale.]

. . . These were the first fruits of the Martyrs in the new schism of Henry VIII .  . . . three other Carthusians . . . bore witness to the faith in the same noble way . . .  [A month later] . . . They had been, for fourteen days before they were put to death, forced to stand upright, without the possibility  of stirring for any purpose whatever, held fast by iron collars on their necks, arms, and thighs. These three were dragged on hurdles through the streets of London to the place of execution------together with William Horne [a lay brother]-----and when they had been hung for awhile, were cut down, being yet alive. Then the executioner mutilated their persons, and threw into the fire that which he had cut off. That done, he laid their bodies open with a sword, wrenched out the entrails, and threw them into the fire before their eyes. Finally, he cut off their heads, and divided their bodies into four quarters, which were first boiled, and then hung up in divers places to be seen of the people. [119]

Pages 120-128 in their entirety, except for all but five of the footnotes
[placed in brackets] which are quite extensive:

John Rochester and James Walver
-----they also were Carthusians-----obtained favour in the eyes of the king, for they were sent to Heaven, being simply hanged.

Now, whether the tyrant was ashamed of so much slaughtering done in the sight of the people, or of slaughtering Carthusians only, he had the death of nine other Carthusians brought about by the foulness of the prison in which he held them, that they might not triumph publicly over him. These were John Bere, Thomas Greenway, John Davis, William Greenwood, Thomas Scriven, Robert Salt, Walter Person, and Thomas Reding.  So far as to the Carthusians; for though they did not all suffer death on the same day, yet I did not like to keep asunder in my story those whom the same faith and the same order had joined together.

The bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More were still in prison: two most shining lights of all England, and towards whom men's eyes and thoughts were directed. Henry was well aware of this, and was therefore the more desirous of winning them over to his side, especially Sir Thomas More, who, being a layman, was more in favour with lay people, and for very good reasons, because no such layman had ever been born in England. Henry, too, liked laymen better, and was more afraid of them.

Sir Thomas was born in London of a very honourable house, well instructed also in the Greek and Latin tongues, and conversant with public affairs for nearly forty years. He had discharged the honourable duties of ambassador, and had filled with the applause of all men the highest offices in the state. Though he was twice married, and was the father of many children, he was never careful about increasing his means; and he never added even twenty pounds a year to his patrimony.

 Henry sent many of the nobles to him, but to no purpose; and unable to make up his mind whether it would be more to his advantage to let so illustrious an enemy of his adultery live on, or to brand himself with shame for putting out so shining a light of the Christian world, he resolved at last to put to death the bishop of Rochester first, to see whether More afterwards could be made to change his opinion. He had heard by this time that the bishop had been made a Cardinal, and as for breaking his resolution, there was not the slightest hope that he could ever do it.

There was not in England a more holy and learned man than John Fisher, bishop of Rochester. He was now worn out by age, and though he had been offered more than once a better endowed see, he could never be persuaded to leave the poor church to which God had first called him. He would not acknowledge the ecclesiastical supremacy of the king, and for that refusal was tried and condemned, and led forth to death, June 22d. As soon as he came in sight of the place where he was to be conqueror in the glorious contest, he threw his staff away, saying, "Now my feet must do their duty, for I have but a little way to go." Having reached the place of his Martyrdom, he lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said, "Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur." When he had fInished the hymn he bowed his head beneath the sword of the executioner, gave up his soul to God, and received the crown of justice. His head, fixed on a pike, was exposed to the sight of all on London Bridge, but was afterwards taken away, because it was said that the longer it remained the more ruddy and venerable it seemed to grow.

The day on which the bishop was to die had, by order of the king, been kept secret from Sir Thomas More; nevertheless he was told of it, and then, overcome by a great fear that he was not to gain the crown of Martyrdom himself, began to pray, saying, "I confess to Thee, O Lord, that I am not worthy of so great a crown, for I am not just and holy as is Thy servant the bishop of Rochester, whom Thou hast chosen for Thyself out of the whole kingdom, a man after Thine own heart; nevertheless, O Lord, if it be Thy will, give me a share in Thy chalice."

He wept while uttering these words and others of a like nature; his countenance also, at other times so calm, betrayed the sorrow he could not hide, and the children of this world imagined that he was afraid of death, and might therefore be won over to obey the king. Many of the chief nobles went to see him, for the purpose of winning him over; but when they could not succeed in the slightest degree, they intrusted the matter at last to Alice, his wife, who was to persuade her husband not to give up herself, his children, his country, and his life, which he might still enjoy for many years to come. As she harped on this, More said to her, "And how long, my dear Alice, do you think I shall live? " " If God will," she answered, "you may live for twenty years." "Then," said Sir Thomas, "You would have me barter eternity for twenty years; you are not skillful at a bargain, my wife. If you had said twenty thousand years, you might have said something to the purpose; but even then, what is that to eternity?"

When it became clear that Sir Thomas More was not to be shaken in his resolution, he was deprived of all his books, which were regarded as instrumental in withdrawing him from the love of this world, and kindling within him the desire of everlasting life. Thereupon he closed the windows of his prison, and spent the whole of his time with God in holy meditation. The jailer asked him why he sat in the dark; he replied that there was nothing else for him to do, for the "shop must be shut when the goods are gone." By goods he meant his books, and truly Sir Thomas had opened a shop in his prison, where he purposed to sell all that he had, that he might possess himself of Heaven with the price. He wrote two books during his imprisonment------one in English, "Comfort in Tribulation
[A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation];" the other in Latin, on the Passion of Christ. When he had written the story of the Passion as far as those words of the gospel, "They laid hands on Jesus [St. Matt. xxvi. 50] ,"  hands were laid upon him, and he was not allowed to add another word.

In the course of his trial he was asked in court what he thought of the law------enacted after his imprisonment
------by which the whole authority of the Pope was set aside, and by which the supreme power over the Church was vested in the king; he replied, that he did not know of any law of the kind. The judge interposed and said, "But we tell you that such a law exists, what do you think of it?" More replied, "If you treated me as a free man, I would have believed you on your word when you tell me that there is a law to that effect; but you have cut me off from your community, and you have shut me up in jail, not as a stranger but as an enemy. I am civilly dead; how is it that you question me concerning the laws of your state, as if I were still a member of the community?" The judge lost his temper and said, "Now I see, you dispute the law, for you are silent." Then said Sir Thomas, "If I am silent, that is to your advantage, and that of the law; for silence is consent." "Then," said the judge, "do you acknowledge the law?" "How can I do that," answered Sir Thomas, "seeing that no man can acknowledge anything of which he is ignorant?"
Sir Thomas More framed his answers in this way on purpose, that he might not deny the faith on the one hand, nor on the other hand court his death; for though he had a great longing for Martyrdom, he never forgot that it was a grace from God. In the uncertainty he was in, as he often said, whether God would give him this grace, he answered modestly as I have shown.

When at last the judge called on the twelve men in whose province it lies to decide the question of life and death, these men brought in a verdict of death against Sir Thomas More. Thereupon he, now more sure of his state, told them frankly what he thought of that law. "I," said he, "have by the grace of God been always a Catholic, never out of the communion of the Roman Pontiff, but I had heard it said at times that the authority of the Roman Pontiff was certainly lawful and to be respected, but still an authority derived from human law, and not standing on a Divine prescription. When when I observed that public affairs were so ordered that the sources of the power of the Roman Pontiff would necessarily be examined, I gave myself up to a most diligent examination of that question for the space of seven years, and found that the authority of the Roman Pontiff, which you rashly------I will not use stronger language
------have set aside, is not only lawful, to be respected, and necessary, but also grounded on the Divine law and prescription. That is my opinion; that is the belief in which by the grace of God I shall die."

He had hardly ended his answer when they all cried out that More was a traitor and a rebel.

On his return from the court he was met by his daughter Margaret, whom he loved so much, whom he had taught both Greek and Latin, and to whom he had often written when he was in prison. She had come to bid him her last farewell. The father stood, and not only did not refuse the kiss of his child, but gave her his blessing. The wife of John Harris, who had been secretary to Sir Thomas More, was there with Margaret, and being afraid that Sir Thomas would go away after kissing his child, and that she should not be able to say farewell herself, suddenly seized the head of Sir Thomas, as he was leaning over his daughter's shoulder, and with great affection kissed her master before all the people, upon which Sir Thomas said to her, "Kindly meant, but not politely done."

He was led to the place of execution on the 6th day of July. When he came to the foot of the scaffold, and saw that it would not be easy for him to mount, he called to one of the attendants, and said, "I beg you will help me to get up; as for coming down, you may leave me alone for that." When he had ended his prayer, had called the people to witness that he was going to die in the Catholic faith, and had said the psalm Miserere, the executioner came forward, and, according to the custom, asked him to forgive him. That done, he struck off the head of justice, of truth, and of goodness. All England mourned the dead, regarding the blow as having fallen not so much upon the Martyr of Christ as upon itself.
Early in the morning of that day his daughter went about from church to church, and gave large alms to the poor. When she had given all that she had, and was at prayer in church, she said to her maid, " Ah me! I have forgotten the shroud for my father's body." She had heard that the body of the bishop of Rochester had been laid in the ground without cross or lights, unattended by a priest, and that no one came to bury the holy Martyr. Indeed no one dared to render him that service, for the fear of Henry's cruelty had fallen upon all. Margaret took care that her father should not be treated in the same way.

Her maid recommended her to provide herself with linen at the nearest shop. "How can I do that," she replied, "when I have no money left?" The maid said, "They will trust you." "I have no money," was the answer of Margaret; "and though I am far from home, and the people here do not know me, yet I will try them." She then entered a shop in the neighbourhood, asked for as much linen as she thought was necessary, and settled about the price. Then, as if looking for her money, she put her hand in her purse, in order to be able to say that to her great disappointment she had none; however, if they would trust her, they should be paid without delay. But lo! she who knew too well that a few minutes before there was nothing in her purse, now found in it the price of the linen, neither more nor less than the sum she was then bound to pay. Comforted by the miracle, she took up the linen, wrapt her father's body therein, and honourably buried the Martyr of Christ. No one disturbed her in her pious duty, for they respected the woman, especially the child. (The trial took place on the 1st of July 1535, and (Stow, p. 572) "the 6th of July Sir Thomas More was beheaded on the Tower hill for the like denial of the king's supremacy: and then the body of Doctor Fisher, bishop of Rochester, was taken by and buried with Sir Thomas More, both in the Tower.")

With Saint John Fisher, Thomas More was canonized on May 19, 1935.


The above image of our Martyr is an excellent likeness and executed in traditional Holbein style. Holbein is the noted portrait artist of Saint Thomas More and other figures of English history in his time. I consider this his best work to date.



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