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(57,853 posts)
Fri Dec 29, 2023, 08:46 AM Dec 2023

Murder in the Cathedral: On this date, December 29, 1170, Thomas Becket was assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral.

This was before the Julian -- Gregorian calendar shift. The current December 29 might be eleven days earlier or eleven days later. I've given up trying to figure that out.

Julian calendar

Gregorian calendar


• 1170 – Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

Thomas Becket

One of the earliest known depictions of Becket's assassination, c.?1175–1225

Church: Latin Church
Archdiocese: Canterbury
Appointed: 24 May 1162
Term ended: 29 December 1170

Personal details
Born: 21 December c.?1119; Cheapside, London, Kingdom of England
Died: 29 December 1170 (aged 50 or 51); Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, Kingdom of England
Buried: Canterbury Cathedral
Denomination: Catholicism

Attributed arms of Saint Thomas Becket: Argent, three Cornish choughs proper, visible in many English churches dedicated to him. As he died 30 to 45 years before the age of heraldry, he bore no arms.

Thomas Becket (/ˈbɛkɪt/), also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket (21 December 1119 or 1120 – 29 December 1170), served as Lord Chancellor from 1155 to 1162, and then notably as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his death in 1170. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the King in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.




• Modern works based on the Becket story include: T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral, adapted as the opera Assassinio nella cattedrale by Ildebrando Pizzetti); Jean Anouilh's play Becket, where Becket is not a Norman but a Saxon, adapted for the screen in 1964, and starring Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton; and Paul Webb's play Four Nights in Knaresborough, which Webb adapted for the screen, selling the rights to Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The power struggle between Church and King is a theme of Ken Follett's novel The Pillars of the Earth, where a late scene features the murder of Becket. An oratorio by David Reeves, Becket (The Kiss of Peace), was premièred in 2000 at Canterbury Cathedral, where the event had occurred, as a part of the Canterbury Festival, and a fundraiser for the Prince's Trust.


Tue Dec 29, 2020: Proclamation on 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket; December 28, 2020
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Murder in the Cathedral: On this date, December 29, 1170, Thomas Becket was assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral. (Original Post) mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2023 OP
That brings back memories. ChazInAz Dec 2023 #1


(2,580 posts)
1. That brings back memories.
Fri Dec 29, 2023, 11:10 AM
Dec 2023

In the early Seventies, my theatre company simultaneously staged Eliot's and Anouihl's plays in Illinois. "Becket" on our home stage in Springfield, and "Murder In The Cathedral" on the road in churches all over the area. We used the same group of actors, but switched roles around. Your humble, at least, was somewhat consistent...I got to murder Becket in both versions. One of my favorite memories was when, as The First Knight I addressed the entirely African-American congregation of a Baptist church at the end of "Murder". I got one of the best inadvertent laughs of my career when I stepped up to the pulpit, removed my helmet and said: "You are all Englishmen..." That audience was mine as I wrapped up the play!

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