St. Thomas More


Im sure many Catholics have seen the movie a Man of all Seasons. I just finished watching it around over a week ago and since I have watched it 2-3 more times. It prompted me to buy some of his books. I am curious if anyone has read his books like Utopia and Dialogue Concerning Heresies? Ive read some hate sites on him by protestants because apparently he was very hard on heretics during his time. But at the same time he was a humanist and a great defender of the faith as well as a trustworthy defender of the law giving fair trial(whereas most of the other lawyers were corrupt and excepted bribes)

I bought his book, Dialogue Concerning Heresies, which is a 400 page book refuting most of the protestant heresies that were going on in his time. Im really excited to read this. Does anyone else own Thomas More’s works?


What irks the *bleep *out of me is that it took the Church until the mid 1920’s to canonize this guy. He was responsible for reorganizing the British courts and clearing a great backlog of cases so that people didn’t have to wait forever to have their cases adjudicated. And we reward this pious lawyer by delaying his recognition almost 400 years. Go figure.



You mean, of course, that what irks the bleep out of you is that it took GOD until the mid 1920s to produce the requisite number of miracles attributable to St Thomas’ intercession in order for him to be canonised. :yup:

Canonisation is a declaration by the Church of a state of affairs that God makes manifest. The Church doesn’t work to its own agenda or its own timetable in such matters.

For the record, the shortest canonisation ever is St Peter of Verona. Martyred by the Catharist heretics against whom he was preaching on 6 April 1252 and canonised by Innocent IV on 25 March 1253. And pretty much ignored ever since - not particularly popular or anything.


What miracle of intercession have been atributed to More?

I find it interesting that Henry VIII was such a great defender of the faith with his “Defense of the Seven Sacraments” until he had problems with Anne Bolyne, then all of a sudden he turned on the Church and become a big person in the Anglican and Protestant Heresys. Yet Henry VIII called Luther an “impious, babbling, idiot” in his written works. Funny how things work out


Read up on the cause for his canonisation - canonisation necessarily requires at the very least one, if not more, verifiable miracles to be attributed to a person to occur after their death for them to be canonised. I’m not familiar with the details of his case so I couldn’t tell you what they were, but they certainly must’ve happened.

As for Defence of the Seven Sacraments, many people reckon and not without some reason that it was basically written by More at Henry’s instigation.


That, I’ve never heard.

All I have heard about Henry was that he was a brilliant man – educated, erudite, artistic, and pious (altho’ not necessarily in the best sense of the term). I have also read he was a man of “the grossest appetites” (can’t remember where). Eventually his lust (for women and for power) overcame all his other qualities. Just because he was wicked does not mean he wasn’t intelligent.


Not that Henry was unintelligent at all, but it seems he certainly had an almost phobic dislike of putting pen to paper - even the very necessary documents that his predecessors would usually do themselves were left by Henry to secretaries. He makes a big deal in one of his handful of letters to Anne Boleyn that he’s taken the trouble to write to her himself, if I remember rightly.

Too busy huntin’ shootin’ joustin’ and running after women to enjoy spending time scribbling, I’d imagine. Awfully odd then that he should write a not unlengthy and very learned book all of a sudden. :shrug:


Martyrdom trumps miracles. More was a martyr because he was executed for his defense of the faith.
Henry’s actions are attributable to an advanced case of syphilis in which some victims become obsessive and will do all manner of strange things to achieve the object of their obsession. In Henry’s case it was providing a male heir to the throne of Britain. Although he did terrible things it is conceivable that it was not mortally sinful because of mental impairment.



I think there is much to be admiring about the man. And I have always done so, but I have also read a very large tomb biography about him. He was rather vile in his criticism of protestantism. It went beyond the pale and was bereft of any Christian charity. He practically salivates at the execution by burning of 'heretics". While i applaud his willingness to die for his beliefs, I certainly no longer think of his as a good roll model.


You have to realize that More’s job was keeping the peace. And many heretics of those days caused public rioting and violence. He viewed heretics as a danger to the safety and unity of the people. By law he had to arrest many of them because of the public discord they caused.


When we look back at the people and times we often look back with the societal underpinnings of our own time …

we see the actions, tone in writings and speeches and judge them by our ‘standards’ … looking at the times ‘in context’ with the society from whwich they originate our judgements are modified …

Protestant England outlawed the practice of Catholicism … priests caught offering the Mass were executed and their bodoes drawn and quartered … I assume that you would denounce this as barbaric [and it was] …

However, generally [religious context removed] during this time period executions were commonly held in public [hangings, be-headings, public floggings, etc]. Dead bodies [or parts] were publically displayed :shrug: . The authoirty of the crown was absolute … laws and such could be inforced or not based on the civil authority in charge, peoples loyalty and or assistance was garnered by money and power … insurrections were crushed with brutal force… living was hard business, food shelter, medical care … none of which compare to the lives we live today …

This is the life and times from which St. Thomas More emerges … in that context he was a great man and an advocate for “christian’ values”… you can look back with the understanding of our times and judge harshly but is that the proper context upon which to judge? If so, you must judge all by the same standards …

And in future centuries, christians may judge our lives and times finding our actions and speec equally less than 'Chistian" perhaps even more so …


I think it’s 1 miracle for a martyr and 2 for a non-martyr but I may be wrong there and it may just be 2 for either

Also Henry VIII was no Protestant, he was a Schismatic but not a heretic. The Anglican Church only became Protestant after Henry’s death during Edward’s reign


I don’t find that an answer and much of what I was referring to are his writings about Luther. Now, I am not a fan of Luther, in fact I consider him one of the most silly and damaging individuals in all of history, however, More’s attacks on him were so disgusting its almost embarassing to read. They were nearly pornographic in their ugliness. I cannot look past that. I had come to him, believing him to be grant, based mainly on A man for all Seasons, I finished the biography, and looked beyond and found it to be accurate. I still respect his stance against Henry, but I deeply am appalled at his hatreds.


And what do you think about the writings of Luther and others of the time? … do you not see similarity of phrase?

As I noted in an earlier post … what was common practice at the time … should be read in the context of the society from which they come … Luther wrote some horrible stuff as did others … faith and the practice thereof invoked great passions … beheadings, drawing and quartering a person, heads on pike poles, etc … words on paper were no less passionate and yes … vulgar …


I’m not sure a historical view of Henry is really needed in a thread on More, but if it is, there isn’t much of it going on here. It is thought most likely that Henry wrote at least the first two chapters of the Assertio Septem Sacromentorum himself, as early as 1518, though most details about the book’s production are foggy. More later spoke of the “makers” of the book, without being specific. It seems that he was referring to work done on it before he himself put it into a rough shape, with Henry putting the final touches on it.

Many discussions of Henry limit themselves to cartoon history. If anyone wants to get deeper into the man and the times, I always recommend J. J. Scarisbrick’s superb bio HENRY VIII. It is not pro-Henry, it is pro-history.

Pollard’s older work is good, too.



That’s the kind of history I like.

So many people have an axe to grind, revisionist histories that serve to either demonize or lionize, rather than to relate what was what.

Yeah, Henry was a putz, but that doesn’t mean he was stupid or anything else. There is no need to make up more flaws than he already had. Even a broken clock is perfectly accurate twice a day.


Which book was this? Was it in the Defense of the Seven Sacraments? Or his Dialouges Against Heresies? I know tyndale was his biggest enemy because of his corrupt books flooding england.

Its hard to find More’s works on the internet. There aren’t that many



[FONT=“Arial”]You almost have to buy Thomas More’s works yourself; fortunately they are findable. I would recommend reading the following in this order:

William Roper, The Life of Sir Thomas More, Knight (first biography by son in law and some factual inaccuracies as well as biases to make Roper look better than he is, but written by one who lived in More’s household and married Margaret More, More’s favorite daughter).

Richard Marius, Thomas More, A Biography (biography by one of the editors of Yale University’s Complete Works of Thomas More, also explains the attractions of Protestantism well)

Peter Ackroyd, The Live of Thomas More (excellent descriptions of More’s London and times)

John A. Guy, A Daughter’s Love, (well researched biography of Margaret More Roper and her role in saving St. Thomas’ works).

Thomas More, Dialog of Comfort in Tribulation (possibly jointly written by More and Margaret while More was in the Tower, and still worth reading)

Thomas More, Treatise on the Passion

I have been reading writings by and about Thomas More for over forty years and am not an expert, just an enthusiastic amateur. It does help to read 16th century English out loud if you cannot find versions in modern English. I have also read the attacks on Luther and other Protestants and, like others here, find them over the top in tone and language based on current standards of scholarly debate.

I, like others here, find the burning of the Protestant martyrs under More’s chancellorship hard to reconcile with his sainthood; however, the Catholic reign of Mary Tudor did the same to Protestant martyrs so it was a way of dealing with what was regarded at the time as civic disruption. We cannot expect St. Thomas to have a multicultural, multireligious view of society.when the state and the state church were regarded as the same during his life.

I would be interested in hearing about any miracles attributed to St. Thomas More’s intercession (other than the ones which William Roper mentions in his biography.). I understand that St. Thomas’ canonization did not require proof of miracles because of his martyrdom.

Seeker 2013


Maybe surprisingly, they did not. Pope Pius XI waived the need for proof of any miracles for Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher.

Here’s an old article on the history of the canonizaiton procedure which notes this:

The canonization, on May 19th, 1935, of SS. John Fisher and Thomas More was the first occasion, since the days of Urban VIII, of a formal canonization with a dispensation from the proof of miracles.


Like was said already, you have to read these things in their proper context. With all the heresy being spread around at the time, More had to “get his point across.” Unfortunately, he felt that a charitable approach was not sufficient. Perhaps his vulgar attacks on heretics actually saved someone’s soul.

One wonders if perhaps we, today, are so obsessed with being “nice” that we aren’t willing to tell things in the ways they need to be told sometimes. But that’s a different topic.


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