Thomas Becket ~ hair vest ~ Brown Scapular

Following Becket’s death, the monks prepared his body for burial...

According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hairshirt under his archbishop’s garments.

(Grim, Benedict of Peterborough and William fitzStephen are quoted in Douglas, et al. English Historical Documents 1042–1182 Volume 2 p. 821)

I had been reading Alasdair MacIntyres ‘After Virtue’ for a few months.Saturday morning on my way to St Thomas of Canterbury’s Church in Woodford I read a few pages of a chapter that dealt with Thomas Becket and Henry II.Out of 172 pages so far with no mention of Becket it is interesting that time unravelled itself in such way but to be honest the penny didn’t drop till I was in prayer in the Church and my eyes landed on his statue and then I thought back to what I had read on the way.
Please allow me to quote some of what I read…

“Although Henry was primarily concened to increase the royal power , the way in which he did so extended the rule of law in a fundamental sense, replacing feuds, self help and local custom by a more stable, centralized, equitable and just system of courts and officials than had ever existed before.Becket in turn represented more than the manoeuvrings of ecclesiastical power,however much these preoccupied him.Embedded within the self-assertion of episcopal and papal power was the claim that human law is the shadow cast by divine law, that the institutions of law embody the virtue of justice.Becket represents the appeal to an absolute standard that lies beyond all secular and particular codifications”

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