Sir Thomas More
Thomas More Society celebrates the life of its namesake, Sir Thomas More, the patron saint of attorneys, statesmen and politicians.
Sir Thomas was an English lawyer who served as chancellor of England from 1529 to 1533. King Henry VIII sought the approval of Sir Thomas for the King’s self-appointment to be the head of the Church of England because of his obsession with finding a male heir to his throne, thereby divorcing his rightful wife, Catherine, for another, Anne Boleyn. In good conscience, Sir Thomas could not support either of these actions, so he refused to sign the Act of Succession and also resigned as chancellor. What Sir Thomas had not counted on was the deceit and betrayal of those craving power at his expense thereby causing Sir Thomas’s famous quote to ring true, “When statesmen forsake their own private consciences for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” For adhering to his principles, Sir Thomas was jailed, tried, and sentenced to death while hundreds of noblemen and clergy stood by the King to save their own heads.
Even until his death (in 1535) he gave witness to the priority of his loyalty as his last recorded words testify: ”I am the King’s good servant – but God’s first.” In 1935, Thomas More was canonized and proclaimed a saint of the universal Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI. In our time, St. Thomas More fittingly models peaceful and stalwart adherence to principles for all pro-life activists and those called to defend them.
A Lawyer’s Prayer to St. Thomas More*
I pray, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, that I, with You, St. Thomas More, may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients’ tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul.
Pray for me, and with me, that my family may find in me what Your family found in You: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, but God’s first. Amen.
*Used with permission. © Center for Thomas More Studies. Ecclesiastical approval, 2003, + B. Galveston, TX.