Who is St. Thomas More?

When you think of St. Thomas More, your mind probably goes to Utopia, King Henry XIII, or one of the many renditions of A Man for All Seasons

And while each of these do capture a part of the character of St. Thomas More, we want to give you a deeper sense of the man behind the brilliant writing, statesmanship, and story. 

St. Thomas More was a devoted husband and father.  When his first wife, Jane Colt, passed away, he was left with four young children to care for.  Soon after Jane’s death, he married Alice Middleton and adopted her daughter as well.  More’s letters to his family, many of which have been preserved by scholars over the past several centuries, indicate his love and affection for them above any of his other duties. 

In his letter to Urlich von Hutten, Thomas More’s best friend, Erasmus, describes him as humble, kind, just, and always willing to see the humor in any situation. Erasmus praises More, saying, “He seems to be born and made for friendship, of which he is the sincerest and most persistent devotee…If anyone requires a perfect example of true friendship, it is in More that he will best find it.” 

Though he was a great husband, lawyer, father, and friend, More was first and foremost a man of God.  His deep conviction for the faith served every aspect of his life, and eventually led to his death.  Unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of King Henry XIII’s divorce and separation from the Catholic Church, More’s role as Chancellor of England quickly changed to political prisoner. 

More spent 15 months in the Tower of London as he awaited his trial and ultimate execution.  During that time, More underwent intense mental and spiritual distress and wrote some of his most powerful works including The Sadness of Christ, a reflection on the Lord’s agony in Gethsemane and an exploration of Christ as the perfect example of virtue in the midst of suffering and persecution. 

So who is St. Thomas More?

 He is an example of how a secular life can be lived in service to God. He loved his family and friends, enjoyed the little pleasures of life, and worked hard in his career. He used his intellectual gifts and political influence well, and served his country and king to the best of his ability. His famous last words were, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first,” a testament to More’s cleverness, loyalty, and love for his faith.

To discover the character of St. Thomas More further, we recommend these titles:

Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage

Inside the Mind of Thomas More: The Witness of His Writings

Thomas More: A Lonely Voice Against the Power of the State

The Sadness of Christ

Life of Pico

Four Last Things