Biography of St. Thomas a Becket


Becket (ah-bek'-et), St. Thomas a. Archbishop of Canterbury. Born in 1118. Was the son of a London merchant, his mother being a convert from Mohammedanism. After entering the church, Henry II made him chancellor of England, and in 1162 he was elected to the primacy. Dissensions, however, soon broke out between the king and Becket, the latter asserting the independence of the church and refusing to sign the "Constitutions of Clarendon." Becket, having been condemned and suspended from his office by parliament, escaped to France, and a war with the latter country followed. In 1770, an apparent reconciliation was followed. In 1170, an apparent reconciliation was entered into, and Becket returned to England. Shortly after his arrival, he was assassinated by the supposed order of the king, on the step of his own altar, 1170. The king, denying all share in the murder, was absolved; but in 1174 he did penance at his tomb. Becket was canonized by Alexander III in 1172.