I was undecided. I was torn between a monastic calling and a life of civil service. I was a scholar, an eminent lawyer, a gentleman. I was a father of four children and chancellor of England. I was also a committed Christian. I read the Scriptures, prayed regularly, obeyed the commandments, and loved the Church.
Many see me as an example for modern politicians, since I was a diplomat and a counsellor who did not compromise my own moral values in order to please the king. I believed that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. King Henry VIII himself realized this and tried desperately to win me to his side because he knew that many people admired my integrity. But I steadfastly refused to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry. I would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would I acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, since this would have meant breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head.
I resigned as chancellor in 1532. Some time later I was committed to the tower of London. When I was found guilty, I declared I had all the Councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support me in the decision of my conscience.
I was finally beheaded on Tower Hill, London, in July of 1535.
“Give me the grace, Good Lord… gladly to be thinking of You, piteously to call for Your help. To lean into your comfort. Busily to labor to love You.”
St Thomas More
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