Biography of St. Thomas More

The life of St. Thomas More (1478-1535) spanned pivotal years in the history of Christianity. He was 42 years old when Martin Luther’s initiatives ushered in the Reformation. In his personal life, More was a man of his times in Medieval English society. His first marriage ended in tragedy with the death of his wife, and in his second marriage he helped raise seven children-four of his own, his second wife’s child and two adopted children.
A third generation Londoner, More was educated by a socially minded father and surrounded by accomplished relatives who were involved in civic life. He had close relationships with several continental intellectuals, including Erasmus. Nevertheless, he nurtured a wonderful sense of humour and a light, witty touch in the face of crises in his life.
These crises came about principally because of his political involvements. He was a lawyer, author, Member of parliament, Speaker of the Commons, and ultimately Lord Chancellor (Prime Minister) under King Henry VIII.
In 1534 More was ordered to recognize Henry’s supremacy as head of the Church of England, necessarily repudiating the authority of the Pope. More refused. He was tried for treason and beheaded on July 6, 1535 at the age of 57.
St. Thomas More was canonized in 1935, and was named Lawyer of the Millennium by the Law Society of Great Britain in 1999. He was added to the calendar of saints in the Anglican communion. In the year 2000, St. Thomas More was named by Pope John Paul II as the Patron Saint of Lawyers and Politicians.