St Thomas More
A short biography from the Vatican website:
Thomas More was born in the heart of London on 7 February 1478, and he was beheaded in the same city on 6 July 1535.
After studying at Oxford and the London Inns of Court, he became a prominent lawyer, a member of Parliament, and a well respected judge. He served his city in numerous capacities, but he never allowed his public duties to interfere with his close supervision of his children’s education or with his intense life of study as a leading humanist. After agreeing to enter the King’s service at forty-one, he rose quickly in his responsibilities until he became Lord Chancellor of England at the age of fifty-two. He resigned that office, however, on 16 May 1532 after King Henry VIII manipulated both Parliament and the Convocation of Clergy in order to assume control over the Church in England. Sir Thomas was eventually imprisoned for fifteen months before being tried and executed for not signing an oath that recognized the King’s supremacy in spiritual affairs.
The Christian steadfastness which Thomas More demonstrated in martyrdom has made his name famous down through the centuries. In his own lifetime, he was already known throughout Europe for his scholarship and his innovative views, which led him, for example, to give his daughters the same education his son received – a revolutionary development in those times. His work as a writer — especially his translations of the Greek satirist Lucian, his collection of original poems, and his great classic Utopia — lent his name incomparable prestige. Utopia continues to be Thomas More’s best-known work. Modeled on Plato’s Republic, this intellectual puzzle is one of the finest case studies ever devised for the political philosopher and the student of human nature. Like the Republic, Utopia is filled with internal contradictions that invite the attentive reader to think deeply about the perennial ethical values which give meaning to personal and social life.
Thomas More has been venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church since 1935, and since 1980 his name has been included in the Anglican calendar of saints. He has been recognized as a symbol of integrity and a hero of conscience by people regardless of their nations or beliefs. His last words, “I die the King’s good servant and God’s first,” remain an inspiration for all those who dedicate their lives to the service of the common good.