Pastoral Notes 3rd January, 2016

St. Thomas Becket in 14th century illustrationVARIED SEASON
Our Christmas period has many different feasts, and many different saints have come to be remembered at this time, including the patron-saint of our diocese, St Thomas Becket, commemorated on 29th December, the day he was martyred in 1170. At the time Northampton had a royal court, and it was there St Thomas was summoned in 1164, and turned up in full archbishop’s robes, only to say the court had no jurisdiction over him. He left immediately and fled to France only to return in 1170 under an uneasy truce with the king. England had been conquered by the Normans in 1066. They also conquered and ruled Sicily (and Naples) via the Crusades for some years around the period of St Thomas. There is a picture/mosaic of St Thomas in the cathedral of Monreale, dating from about eight years after the saint’s death. We also owe it to St Thomas that we celebrate the Holy Trinity straight after Pentecost, a custom he began and saw spread throughout the Church. Archbishop Runcie and Pope John Paul II prayed silently at St Thomas’s tomb in Canterbury Cathedral in May 1982.