The 12 days of Christmas – St Thomas Becket

On my personal facebook I have been exploring the 12 days of Christmas as I had a personal enquiry into what saints and traditions were associated with those days. I will create backdated posts for the other days, but since it’s day 4, I will start here.
In the Western Tradition, the only indication I could find for December 29, the 4th (or 3rd day depending upon how one counts it) is St Thomas Becket, the English Bishop of Canterbury who was murdered by loyal knights who interpreted an exclamation of King Henry II as a wish to have Becket killed. This happened in 1170 inside Canterbury Cathedral, and within year Pope Alexander had Becket made into a saint. Becket became very popular with the people and pilgrims began making a long journey to Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. Until Henry VIII, his bones were placed in golden container and placed inside Trinity Chapel. With the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII also had the bones taken out and destroyed and scattered. However, even after this, his cult remained active and people continued to visit places associated with St Thomas Becket and marvelous stories about his life started to appear.
I couldn’t find anything particular associated with the feast day itself, but for me, it is curious that this is recognized by the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic church. While I suspect other saints are remembered on this day in other parts of the Catholic church, I can’t find any indication of this, and it seems that images of Thomas Becket and his murder are widespread, as his flight from England before hand is well documented, and when he was murdered his extended family fled to Sicily and received aid from King of Sicily at the time. So his role as a priest and Bishop, and his influence was truly grand at a time when travel and communication could take weeks if not months across the European continent.

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