Mysteries of the Bible

"Unanswered Questions of the Bible"

Miracles of a Martyr

Posted by foryourfaith on June 27, 2010

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News of the murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, in his own cathedral following a power struggle between Church and State, sent shock waves throughout Christian Europe. Becket had not always lived like a saint but in 1170 he died a martyr, and people present at his murder kept an official account of more than 700 miracles over the following 15 years.

These included raising children from the dead and curing conditions such as leprosy, paralysis, blindness, deafness and madness. Becket even cured those who had been his enemies, including a member of the De Broc family, one of whom had helped to kill him. He also worked a miracle for Henry II, although the king had ordered Becket’s murder. One story even claimed that the great wound suffered by clerk Edward Grim, who remained by Thomas’s side and took the first sword-thrust, healed before his patron’s body was cold on the floor.

Several of Becket’s miracles shed light on popular opinion about him. Remembered as a wine-lover who once changed water into wine in front of Pope Alexander III, he provided a miracle of two poor people, Ralph of Hatfield and his wife, who wanted to raise money to make a pilgrimage to his shrine at Canterbury. The couple were trying to do this by brewing, but could not get the beer to ferment. They then hit on the idea of lowering into the beer a bowl containing the blood of Saint Thomas, and they were rewarded.

Becket’s miracles did not occur only after his death; many were also reported in his lifetime. Once when he was staying at the medieval Archbishop’s Palace in Otford, Kent, he noticed that it lacked a good supply of water. He stuck his staff into the ground, and water immediately bubbled up, creating the spring to this day known as St. Thomas’s Well.

The night before his murder, people as far away as Normandy, in France, had visions of Becket’s death. Becket himself had a vision of his death. While in exile at Pontigny the year before, he had dreamt that cardinals tried to tear his eyes out as he was pleading his case before the pope.


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