St. Thomas More Proclaims His Fidelity To The Papacy

December 17, 2015

St. Thomas MoreIn the course of his trial he was asked in court what he thought of the law—enacted after his imprisonment—by which the whole authority of the Pope was set aside, and by which the supreme power over the Church was vested in the king….

Sir Thomas More framed his answers in this way on purpose, that he might not deny the faith on the one hand, nor on the other hand court his death; for though he had a great longing for martyrdom, he never forgot that it was a grace from God. In the uncertainty he was in, as he often said, whether God would give him this grace, he answered modestly as I have shown.

The Execution of Sir Thomas More in 1535 by Antoine Caron

The Execution of Sir Thomas More in 1535 by Antoine Caron

When at last the judge called on the twelve men in whose province it lies to decide the question of life and death, these men brought in a verdict of death against Sir Thomas More. Thereupon he, now more sure of his state, told them frankly what he thought of that law. “I,” said he, “have by the grace of God been always a Catholic, never out of the communion of the Roman Pontiff, but I had heard it said at times that the authority of the Roman Pontiff was certainly lawful and to be respected, but still an authority derived from human law, and not standing on a divine prescription. Then when I observed that public affairs were so ordered that the sources of the power of the Roman Pontiff would necessarily be examined, I gave myself up to a most diligent examination of that question for the space of seven years, and found that the authority of the Roman Pontiff, which you rashly—I will not use stronger language—have set aside, is not only lawful, to be respected, and necessary, but also grounded on the divine law and prescription. That is my opinion; that is the belief in which by the grace of God I shall die.”

He had hardly ended his answer when they all cried out that More was a traitor and a rebel.


The Rev. Dr. Nicolas Sander, The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, trans. David Lewis (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1988), 124-5.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 505


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