St. Thomas of Canterbury

Bishop, Martyr

December 29

ST. THOMAS, son of Gilbert Becket, was born in Southwark, England, in 1117. When a youth he was attached to the household of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him to Paris and Bologna to study law. He became Archdeacon of Canterbury, then Lord High Chancellor of England; and in 1160, when Archbishop Theobald died, the king insisted on the consecration of St. Thomas in his stead. St. Thomas refused, warning the king that from that hour their friendship would be broken. In the end he yielded, and was consecrated. The conflict at once broke out; St. Thomas resisted the royal customs, which violated the liberties of the Church and the laws of the realm. After six years of contention, partly spent in. exile, St. Thomas, with full foresight of martyrdom before him, returned as a good shepherd to his Church. On the 29th of December, 1170, just as vespers were beginning, four knights broke into the cathedral, crying: "Where is the archbishop? where is the traitor?" The monks fled, and St. Thomas might easily have escaped. But he advanced, saying: "Here I am—no traitor, but archbishop. What seek you?" "Your life," they cried. "Gladly do I give it," was the reply; and bowing his head, the invincible martyr was hacked and hewn till his soul went to God. Six months later Henry II. submitted to be publicly scourged at the Saint's shrine, and restored to the Church her full rights.
Reflection. —"Learn from St. Thomas," says Father Faber, "to fight the good fight even to the shedding of blood, or, to what men find harder, the shedding of their good name by pouring it out to waste on the earth." you!  
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition

Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS


Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival-day in honor of the blessed martyr Thomas: at who martyrdom the angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. Ps. 32, 1. Rejoice in the Lord, ye just; praise becometh the upright. Glory be …

Collect (Prayer)

O God, for Whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the swords of wicked men, grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his help may obtain the effect of their petition leading to salvation. Through our Lord.

Epistle • Heb. 5, 1-6

Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.

[The office of a high priest. Christ is our high priest.]

BRETHREN, every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.

Gradual • Ecclus. 44, 16

Behold a great priest, who in his days pleased God. There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most Hight.
Alleluia, alleluia. John 10, 14. I am the good shepherd: and I know my sheep, and Mine know Me. Alleluia.

Gospel • John 10, 11-16

Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. John. 

[Christ is the door and the good shepherd. He and his Father are one.]

At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.

Offertory • Ps. 20, 4, 5

Thou hast set on his head, O Lord, a crown of precious stones: he asked life of thee, and thou hast given it to him. Alleluia.


Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings dedicated to Thee, and, by the intercession of blessed Thomas, Thy martyr and bishop, look upon us with mercy for the sake of them. Through our Lord.

Communion • John 10, 14

I am the ood shepherd, and I know my sheep, and Mine know Me.


May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from guilt and, by the intercession of blessed Thomas, Thy martyr and bishop, make us the companions of Him Who is our heavenly healing. Through our Lord.