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St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

As a young man, More exhibited a great intellect, strong work ethic and likable personality . . .

Feast Day: June 22
Canonized: May 19, 1935

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More

From a young age More exhibited three sterling qualities necessary for success: an amazing intellect, a strong work ethic and an extremely likable personality. The first two enabled him to make the most of any opportunity; the third made people want to give him those opportunities.

As a young lawyer, he quickly moved up the ranks until he was working in King Henry VIII’s court. More was knighted and not only became the king’s servant, but also his close friend and confidant. He became the first layman to be Chancellor of England.

Despite his great worldly importance, More was first a man of deep devotion to God and family. Perhaps this perspective was the source of his lightheartedness. His dear friend Erasmus wrote of him, “His countenance is in harmony with his character, being always expressive of an amiable joyousness.”

But More’s greatest qualities shone forth when he was put to the ultimate test. After disagreeing with the pope on divorce, King Henry proclaimed himself “Supreme Head” of the church. When called upon to take an oath to the king, More chose loyalty to the pope and the sacrament of marriage.

The king put him in the Tower of London for over a year under increasingly difficult circumstances hoping to cause a change of heart. More once wrote, “We cannot go to Heaven in featherbeds.” In a final letter to his daughter, scribbled onto cloth with charcoal, he wrote, “Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in Heaven.”

He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. He had the gifts it took to succeed in this life, but more, he had the heroism to enter into glory.

This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com.