Today we remember Thomas More who was beheaded in the Tower of London on this day in 1535.
He was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He also served Henry VIII as Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to May 1532 . In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. On 16 May 1532, More resigned from his role as Chancellor but remained in Henry’s favour despite his refusal. He refused to take the oath of supremacy in 1534 and was found guilty and sentenced to death
The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, its frame seeming so weak that it might collapse. More is widely quoted as saying (to one of the officials): “I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for myself, while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, and God’s first.” After More had finished reciting the Miserere while kneeling, the executioner reportedly begged his pardon, then More rose up merrily, kissed him and gave him forgiveness.
His daughter Margaret Roper later rescued his severed head and it is in the Roper family vault in St Dunstans’s Church here in Canterbury.
Here is a prayer written by St Thomas;
Thank you, dear Jesus,
for all you have given me,
for all you have taken away from me,
for all you have left me.