“This is the sign of the Church always: The Sign of Blood.”

Feast of Saint Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket (about 1118-1170), chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury, devoutly prays before the altar in Canterbury Cathedral while three knights approach him from behind, one with his sword raised menacingly. Becket had been a trusted friend of Henry II, King of England, but they became entangled in a quarrel over the rights of the Church. That dispute ended bitterly in 1170 when a group of Henry’s knights, incited by their king’s anger at the archbishop, killed Becket at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral. Becket was officially proclaimed a saint within three years, and was heralded as a hero who had defied a tyrant for the Church. He remained one of the most popular English saints until Henry VIII, during the Protestant Reformation, desecrated his shrine, destroyed his bones, and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated. (After Henry’s decree in 1532 Henry VIII broke with Rome and proclaimed himself the head of the Anglican church.)

KNIGHTS. Where is Becket, the traitor to the King?
Where is Becket, the meddling priest?
Come down Daniel to the lions’ den,
Come down Daniel for the mark of the beast.

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you marked with the mark of the beast?
Come down Daniel to the lions’ den,
Come down Daniel and join in the feast.

Where is Becket the Cheapside brat?
Where is Becket the faithless priest?
Come down Daniel to the lions’ den,
Come down Daniel and join in the feast.

THOMAS. It is the just man who
Like a bold lion, should be without fear.
I am here.
No traitor to the King. I am a priest,
A Christian, saved by the blood of Christ,
Ready to suffer with my blood.
This is the sign of the Church always,
The sign of blood. Blood for blood.
His blood given to buy my life,
My blood given to pay for His death.
My death for His death.

KNIGHTS. Absolve all those you have excommunicated.
Resign the powers you have arrogated.
Restore to the King the money you appropriated.
Renew the obedience you have violated.

THOMAS. For my Lord I am now ready to die,
That His Church may have peace and liberty.
Do with me as you will, to your hurt and shame;
But none of my people, in God’s name,
Whether layman or clerk, shall you touch,
This I forbid.
…..

Now to Almighty God, to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to the blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to the blessed martyr Denys, and to all the Saints, I commend my cause and that of the Church.

T. S. Eliot -‘ Murder in the Cathedral

(Sources: Rorate Caeli and the Paul J. Getty Museum)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “This is the sign of the Church always: The Sign of Blood.”

  1. Nelson says:

    Reblogged this on Nelson MCBS.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s