Thomas Becket (December 29)
Thomas Becket was born in London England on December 21, 1118. He was the son of wealthy and prominent parents and he studied with the canons regular at Merton in Surrey. Well educated and socially connected, he obtained a position in the house of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury at the age of 24. He became the protégé of Theobald who would promote him to positions of power in the Church: being ordained deacon in 1154 and nominated Archdeacon of Canterbury. In 1155 he was appointed Chancellor of England by King Henry II who valued his friendship as well as his advice.
After Theobald's death in 1161, Thomas was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry and elected as Archbishop in May 1162. His friendship with Henry was damaged by a series of conflicts between the government and the Church. Henry wanted a submissive Church that he could control, while Thomas could not in good conscience allow the Church's freedom and rights to be compromised. Through a series of conflicts Thomas was forced to escape to France. He remained in exile for 6 years and returned to England in 1170. When Thomas returned to England, Henry in exasperation called for someone to rid him of this troublesome priest. Four of his knights went at once to the Cathedral of Canterbury where they murdered Thomas on December 29, 1170. His death shocked Europe, and in 1173 Thomas Becket was canonized by Pope Alexander III.