The Fifth Day of Christmas

Carole Towriss 12 Days of Christmas 0 Comments

The Fifth Day of Christmas, December 29, is the Feast of St Thomas Becket. Thomas was the son of a former London Sheriff. Educated in Paris, he joined the household of Theobold, Archbishop of Canterbury, who introduced him to the newly-crowned King Henry II. They became fast friends, and the king made him chancellor. When Theobold died, Henry made him Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps thinking that having a friend in charge of the church would give him control over that institution.
The friendship suffered as Henry tried to take advantage. Thomas changed, however, and his allegiance shifted as he became ever more devout. He fled first to the Pope and then to France where he excommunicated several bishops for siding with the king.
The Archbishop of York told Henry that as long as Thomas lived the kingdom would never be at peace. The King said something along the lines of, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
Four knights took this as a command to kill Thomas, and on the afternoon of December 29, 1170 entered Canterbury Cathedral during vespers and brutally murdered According to an eyewitness, “At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, ‘For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.’”

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