Thomas More was an English Renaissance man, scholar, politician and a martyr for his Catholic convictions.
An Oxford educated man, he was a master of Latin, Greek and logic. He was a writer of comedies and other works, including the first great histography in English, History of Richard III and Utopia, which criticized the self-interests and greed of then Christian Europe and promoted a place where society and politics are governed totally by reason.
Guided by his father, More became a lawyer but had a calling to monastic life. In 1503, he moved to a Carthusian monastery. For a time, he managed to adhere to religious discipline (he continued to wear a hair shirt throughout his life) and continue his legal practice. In the end, however, his call to civic duty led him to join Parliament in 1504.
By the time Martin Luther fired the minds of Europe with the condemnation of certain practices of Catholicism (1520), More had become treasurer of the exchequer and an intellectual confidant of Henry VIII. Together they responded to Luther with the Defense of the Seven Sacraments.
The relationship between the king and Moore took a turn when Henry wanted to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, for her failure to produce a male heir. More resigned from the House of Commons and did not attend the coronation of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn (1533). The king took it as a personal affront. What sealed the fate of More was when he refused to accept Henry as the head of the Church of England.
Thomas More was sent to the Tower of London, tried and found guilty of treason. He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. His last words were, “The king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
Moore was beatified in 1886 and canonized in 1935.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from www.franciscanmedia.org