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Canterbury Cathedral: St. Thomas Becket, Canterbury England


About Canterbury Cathedral:

Canterbury has a Catholic history dating back to the time of Saint Augustine in the late 6th Century. Saint Augustine was the first Bishop of Canterbury and began building the Cathedral there shortly thereafter.

He worked tirelessly to help spread the faith in the area; however, that is not what most people think about when they hear of Canterbury. Most of you probably know it from “Canterbury Tales” or as the site of the martyrdom of Sir Thomas Becket.


About Sir Thomas Becket:

Although Thomas Becket was originally loyal to King Henry II; after he was named Archbishop in 1162 he began to be constantly found himself in conflict with the King, who had expected him to be more amenable to his demands. As Becket went to France, the King, in 1170, had his son crowned as his heir by the Archbishop of York along with the Bishops of London and Salisbury, who obviously sided with the King.

As a result, Becket ex-communicated them. At this news the King is supposed to have made his famous comment “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

Whether the King meant this literally is open to debate, but the result was that on December 29, 1170 four knights entered the Cathedral during Vespers and confronted him. When he refused to absolve them they killed him with three blows, the last of which reportedly broke off the tip of a sword. The photo shows a shrine to him at the place in which he was martyred.

In just a few short days reports spread of miracles attached to his martyrdom. The windows in the Trinity Chapel portray the reported miracles.

Pope Alexander III canonized him in 1173. After that it became a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. Those who have read Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” have a glimpse of what pilgrims were like after the death of Becket.

The Cathedral is now Anglican rather than Roman Catholic, but still draws many Catholic pilgrims each year.

Click here for the official Canterbury Cathedral website. Be sure to click on through to the “visitor’s guide” for great detailed information about its’ history.


Traveling to Canterbury Cathedral:

It is an easy drive from London and also serviced by rail. Several bus lines also serve the city from hotels in London.

Address: 11 The Precincts Canterbury, Kent CT1 2EH

GPS coordinates: 51° 16′ 47.2692” N, 1° 4′ 58.0800” E

Tel:      +44 (0) 1227 762862           Fax:    +44 (0) 1227 865222 |

e-mail: [email protected]

Click here for the official website of the Canterbury Cathedral

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