|The Canterbury Cross|
The original Canterbury Cross dating from circa 850 AD was excavated from St. George's Street, Canterbury, England in 1867. It is displayed in the museum at Canterbury Cathedral. The cross is the symbol of the Anglican Church and a stone replica is displayed on the walls of the Twelve Anglican Cathedrals located around the world.
We use the cross to symbolize our relationship with our Patron Saint Thomas Becket, the 40th Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated in 1162, murdered in 1170 and canonized in 1220.
Thomas Becket (aka: Thomas à Becket), a close personal friend of King Henry II, was also a soldier, diplomat, statesman and confidant. He served his king as Chancellor for 7 years, however it was when Henry decided to have Thomas as the head of the church, conflicts would arise. Thomas begged his king to reconsider. He knew this would mean trouble between them, besides Thomas was not even a priest (although he was ordained a Deacon). Henry insisted and Thomas was consecrated in 1162.
Thomas joined the Augustinian Order and lived a very strict monastic life, spending many hours in study, prayer and working with the poor. He took the responsibilities as Archbishop very seriously and he protected the rights of the people and church from Henry (the truth be known, once he made the choice, Thomas was happy and content with this life).
Thomas became embroiled in a bitter Church/State jurisdictional dispute with Henry and refused to defer to the King's authority. In 1164 Thomas fled England for France and spent 6 years in exile. In 1170 a tenuous truce was arranged and he returned to Canterbury, where he found his Bishops had infringed upon "His Authority". The Bishops were excommunicated by Thomas.
On December 29, 1170, Thomas was murdered by four knights as Vespers were sung.