Saint of the Day|
This educator saint got caught up in English politics
Thomas of Cantelupe stood under many setbacks
By Tony Staley
When we face difficulties in life it can be difficult to keep our
perspective. We might even think we're the only ones who ever
St. Thomas Cantelupe certainly knew about setbacks. He had
several in his life, including excommunication by his archbishop.
Thomas was born in Hambleden, England, into a distinguished
Norman family in about 1218. His father was Baron William of
Cantelupe, who served as steward for the household of King Henry
III. His uncle, Bishop Walter of Worcester, taught Thomas at
Oxford and Paris before Thomas' ordination in 1245, probably
while he was with his father at the General Council of Lyons.
After completing studies in law at Orléans and Paris, he taught
canon law at Oxford. He was named chancellor at Oxford in 1262
and was known as both a friend of poor students and as a strict
disciplinarian. At the time, students were divided into opposing
camps of northerners and southerners and were allowed to carry
weapons, which Thomas would seize if they misused them.
Soon he found himself allied with a group of reform-minded barons
against King Henry III. After Henry was defeated at Lewes, he was
named chancellor of England.
But soon, following the death in 1265 of Simon de Montfort, who
had led the revolt against Henry, Thomas was dismissed and
retired to Paris.
In 1274, Thomas was again named chancellor at Oxford and the next
year became bishop of Hereford in western England, where he
recovered the rights that had been taken away by the lords. He
also was known for his prudence and abilities.
When traveling in his diocese, he would ask every child he saw if
they had been confirmed. If they hadn't, he would administer the
sacrament immediately. He was also known for publicly rebuking
and excommunicating sinners.
But there were more troubles ahead when he got caught up in a
jurisdictional dispute with Abp. John Peckham of Canterbury.
Thomas led a group of bishops who opposed the archbishop at the
Council of Reading in 1279.
Three years later, the archbishop excommunicated Thomas, who set
out to appeal his case directly to Pope Martin IV, but the trip
exhausted him and he died on Aug. 25, 1282.
Hundreds of miracles were attributed to him after his body was
returned to Hereford and enshrined in the cathedral and it became
a pilgrimage center.
Pope John XXII canonized him in 1320. We celebrate his feast on
Despite the problems he faced, St. Thomas Cantelupe never gave up
and he never seemed to feel sorry for himself.
Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Dictionary of Saints, 365
Saints and World Book Encyclopedia