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St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr

A.D. 1170.

ST. THOMAS BECKET was born in London in 1117, on the 21st of December. His father Gilbert Becket was a gentleman of middling fortune, who, in his youth, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with divers others, and falling into the hands of the Saracens, remained a year and a half a prisoner, or rather a slave, to one of their emirs, or admirals. An only daughter of this emir hearing him one day explain the Christian faith, and declare, upon the question being put to him, that he should with the greatest joy lay down his life for the love of God, if he was made worthy of such a happiness, was so touched, as to conceive on the spot a desire of becoming a Christian. This she made known to Mr. Becket, who contented himself with telling her, that she would be very happy if God gave her that grace, though it were attended with the loss of every thing this world could afford. He and his fellow-slaves soon after made their escape in the night-time, and returned safe to London. The young Syrian lady privately left her father’s house and followed him thither, and being instructed in the faith and baptized by the name of Maud or Mathildes, she was married to him in St. Paul’s church by the bishop of London. Soon after Gilbert went back into the East, to join the crusade or holy war, and remained in those parts three years and a half. Maud was brought to bed of our saint a little time after his departure, about a twelvemonth after their marriage, and being herself very pious, she taught her son from his infancy to fear God, and inspired him with a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. His father, after his return to England, was, in his turn, sheriff 2 of London. Fitz-Stephens assures us, that he never put money out at interest, and never embarked in any commerce, but being contented with his patrimony, lived on the annual income.  Continue reading