Saint Thomas More is the patron saint of our parish. Honored as Sir Thomas More in his lifetime, he was a man fully engaged in the world, but not a captive of the world. As one of the leading figures of his time, Thomas More enjoyed tremendous personal, financial, and political success; yet, he was willing to sacrifice everything, even his life, for his faith and conscience – “I call you to witness, brothers, that I die in and for the faith of the Catholic Church”.
Described as a “man for all seasons”, Saint Thomas More was noted for his faith, intellect and courage. He was a successful author, scholar, lawyer, and statesman. Among his many writings, More is most noted for Utopia, a book about an imaginary island with a perfect political system. As a judge, he became renowned for being both swift and fair in his decisions. He was appointed Lord Chancellor by King Henry VIII, the highest political position in England under the King. He was also an intensely spiritual man, a devoted husband, and father of four.
At the peak of his career, Thomas More was confronted by the necessity to choose between his King and his Church. He chose his Church, a decision that would lead him to martyrdom. For his refusal to support King Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and recognize him as the supreme head of the Church in England, More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason. Following his conviction, More declared that he was “The King’s loyal servant, but God’s first”. He was martyred on July 6, 1535, and, four hundred years later, was canonized as a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935.