Saint Thomas More can be justifiably described as one of the true heroes of English history and a leader of the early Renaissance. His literary works included Utopia, The Four Last Things, and Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, while his professional life included, among others, the public offices of Member of Parliament, High Steward of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and, from 1529-1532, Chancellor of England. To the personal brilliance and industry which enabled Saint Thomas More to lead such a productive life, were joined the qualities of a loving father and husband. These personal qualities were called upon by Thomas More toward the end of his life when he chose to stand resolutely by his religious convictions as he defied the king.
In Utopia, Thomas More raised a question that is as fundamentally important today as it was during the reign of Henry VIII: should the State rule supreme, or are there moral laws we should obey, above any laws which the state might make? More was eventually to answer that question through the example of his own life. For, after a brilliant literary and political career under the patronage of Henry VIII, he brought about his own downfall by refusing to subscribe to the Act of Supremacy which questioned the Pope’s authority and made Henry head of the Church of England. On the scaffold More’s final words provided the key to his personal philosophy when he said that he was “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.” He was canonized and became Saint Thomas More in 1935 on the four hundredth anniversary of his death; his official feast day is July 6.
St. Thomas More Collegiate is indeed fortunate to have as a patron a man of such civic, personal and religious qualities. His life exemplified that happy blending of personal commitment to scholarly and civic pursuits and the personal virtues that nourish such efforts, a blend crucial to a Christian gentleman or lady of today.