Today in Catholic History – Thomas Becket consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury

On 3 June 1162, Thomas Becket became the Archbishop of Canterbury. The English king Henry II had pressured him to become the Archbishop believing that Becket who had previously shown great support for the powers of the king would continue to do so as archbishop. Becket did not want to become archbishop because he feared it would cause grave difficulties between him and the king. He wrote, “our friendship will turn to hate.”

Indeed, once he became archbishop Becket instead became a strong defender of the independence of the Catholic Church from secular control in the many conflicts between Thomas Becket and Henry over the attempts to place clergy under the jurisdiction of secular rather than religious courts. Eventually, Henry’s frustration over Becket’s opposition would lead him to reportedly utter the infamous phrase, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Which will be understood as a command by Henry’s men to arrest Becket and when Becket refused to accompany Henry’s soldiers – they would murder him in the Cathedral of Canterbury.

Thomas Becket

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