Saint Thomas More: Secular Franciscan and Martyr

On June 22, Catholics celebrate the memory of St. Thomas More (1478-1535), celebrated humanist, author, statesman, devoted father and husband, who died as a martyr on July 6, 1535. According to longstanding tradition, he was a Secular Franciscan.

Immersed in humanistic scholarship

Born in London in 1478, the son of the prosperous lawyer John More, Thomas received an excellent primary education, and at the age of 12 became a page to Archbishop Morton of Canterbury, the chancellor of England, who immersed him in humanistic scholarship.

St Thomas More Holbein

The celebrated portrait of Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527), Frick Gallery, New York.

Study of law

In 1492 Thomas began studying at Oxford but he left to study law in London. By the late 1490s More, a young lecturer in law, had joined a circle of prominent humanist scholars: John Colet, Thomas Linacre, and Erasmus.

Deeply drawn to prayer and an ascetic

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