Thomas More was born in London in 1478 and studied to become a lawyer. Recognized for his great intelligence, impartiality, and wisdom, he rose through the ranks of Parliament and earned King Henry VIII’s favor until he became Lord Chancellor in 1529. He resigned the chancellorship three years later, however, when he was unable to support Henry’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn. In 1535, he was convicted of treason and beheaded, and four hundred years later, he was canonized. To learn more about St. Thomas More, go to:
Why is St. Thomas More our patron?
As part of its mission, Sacred Heart University “aims to assist in the development of people knowledgeable of self, rooted in faith, educated in mind, compassionate in heart, responsive to social and civic obligations, and able to respond to an ever-changing world”. Students in the Honors Program are invited to explore unique and creative ways to integrate these dimensions of the Mission into their lives. St. Thomas More is an exemplar of what it means to live out our Mission.
As a young man, More was torn between the priesthood and matrimony, eventually discerning that marriage was his strongest desire. Over the years, his Catholic faith continued to fuel all of his life’s work. He was a highly respected intellectual who wrote extensively on matters of law and theology, and he was befriended by some of the best academics of his time. Extremely devoted to the king, More was a powerful and wise public servant. His work and actions were always guided by steadfast moral principles. The clearest example of this moral influence occurred in the most difficult decision he ever made: he could either publicly endorse King Henry VIII’s divorce, re-marriage, and claim to being head of the English Church, or he could follow the dictates of his conscience and repudiate Henry’s actions. His decision was made all the more difficult by his beloved daughter’s entreaties to avoid a traitor’s death and support the king. More’s ultimate choice to follow his conscience was contrary to the expectations of both society and his family, but he was willing to forsake reputation, profession, and even filial attachment to do what was right. Incredibly, More did not fall prey to self-pity when faced with his own death. Instead, he maintained his typically cheerful disposition and provided for others’ needs ahead of his own to the very end. By his example, then, St. Thomas More challenges us to grow beyond ourselves, to seek the truth wherever it may lead, and to serve our world with grace and magnanimity.
Because the soul has such deep roots in personal and social life and its values run so contrary to modern concerns, caring for the soul may well turn out to be a radical act, a challenge to accepted norms.
- Thomas More