Saint Thomas of Cantelupe
Jul 14, 2015 / Written by: America Needs Fatima
Feast October 3
Born into an illustrious and influential family, Thomas was the son of William de Cantelupe, a minister to King John, and Millicent (or Maud) de Gournay, the Dowager Countess of Evreux and Gloucester. He had four brothers and three sisters.
His education was entrusted to his uncle, Walter de Cantelupe, the Bishop of Worcester, who sent Thomas first to Oxford and then to Paris.
In 1245, while yet a student, Thomas attended the first Council of Lyons. After his ordination to the priesthood in France, he returned to Oxford to teach canon law.
In 1262 he was chosen chancellor of the university, and though considered a strict disciplinarian, was known for his charity to poor students.
In 1264 he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England, and was renowned for his prudence, courage, blameless life, scrupulous justice, and disregard of human respect and the least bribe, but did not hold office long.
In 1275 he was appointed Bishop of Hereford, a diocese he found in a bad state owing to civil wars and the pusillanimity of his two predecessors.
One after another he met, defied and overcame the lords.
He rebuked and excommunicated public sinners equally publicly, especially those in high places who set a bad example. He was also a trusted advisor to King Edward I.
Yet, as it is with truly courageous shepherds, they are just as tender and attentive as they are combative, and it is said that whenever he was among the young, he would personally inquire if they had received the sacrament of Confirmation. Receiving a negative answer, he would personally supply what was needed and confirm them himself.
Unhappily, toward the end of his life, Thomas entered into a great dispute with John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, over questions of jurisdiction and other particular cases. This disagreement ended by the metropolitan excommunicating Thomas who traveled to Italy to settle the matter with Pope Martin IV who, despite the fulminations in Peckham’s letters, received him kindly. Thomas was ultimately absolved.
Pending the consideration and outcome of his appeal, Thomas retired to Montefiascone but succumbed to the fatigues and the heat, and died in Orvieto on August 25, 1282.
His remains were later transferred to Hereford and he was buried in the cathedral. He was canonized in 1320.
Header Image: Seal of St. Thomas of Cantelupe