Today marks the 850th anniversary of St Thomas Becket’s martyrdom – when he was murdered by four knights in the Cathedral. This morning I lit the candles in our Martyrs chapel, which has relics of St Thomas and prayed for courage, like St Thomas, to be faithful to Christ in all things. At the beginning of this year our church became a Diocesan Shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury.
In the decree issued by the Archbishop it states “At this Shrine, the means of salvation are to be supplied more abundantly to the faithful by the diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety. (Canon 1234 §l of the 1983 Code of Canon Law). Seeing that this Shrine has been so designated and approved, in virtue of the ordinary power granted me by law and in virtue of canon 1233, I do hereby grant a partial indulgence from temporal punishment to any member of the Christian faithful who visits the Shrine on the liturgical feast day of the Shrine.”
We are celebrating Mass at 12 noon today. Usually we have sung Vespers and a procession to the place of martyrdom in the crypt of the Cathedral across the road. Sadly this year, because of Covid 19 restrictions, this will not be possible. We will be celebrating Mass in the evening at 7:30pm. Both Masses are live streamed. Canterbury cathedral are having their annual Becket Choral Evensong which will be streamed online at 17.30. .
O God, who gave to your Bishop Saint Thomas
the grace to lay aside all earthly fear
and be faithful even unto death,
grant, we pray, at his intercession
that your people disregarding worldly esteem
may resist what is wrong, uphold your rule
and serve you to their life’s end.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
(Alternative Opening Prayer for the Feast)