St. Thomas More forgives and prays for his persecutors

September 4, 2021 • 2 min

From Life of Sir Thomas More, page 94

Now when Sir Thomas More for the avoiding of the indictment had taken as many exceptions as he thought meet, and many more reasons than I can now remember alleged, the Lord Chancellor, loth to have the burden of the judgment wholly to depend upon himself, there openly asked the advice of the Lord Fitzjames, then Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and joined in commission with him, whether this indictment were sufficient or not.

Who, like a wise man answered, “My Lords all, by St. Julian” (that was ever his oath) “I must needs confess that if the act of parliament be not unlawful, then is the indictment in my conscience not insufficient.”

Whereupon the Lord Chancellor said to the rest of the Lords: “Lo, my Lords, lo! you hear what my Lord Chief Justice saith,” and so immediately gave judgment against him.

After which ended, the commissioners yet further courteously offered him, if he had anything else to allege for his defence, to grant him favourable audience.

Who answered: “More have I not to say, my Lords, but that like as the blessed apostle St. Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and consented to the death of St. Stephen, and kept their clothes that stoned him to death, and yet be they now both twain holy saints in heaven, and shall continue there friends for ever, so I verily trust, and shall therefore right heartily pray, that though your lordships have now here in earth been judges to my condemnation, we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.”

Thus much touching Sir Thomas More’s arraignment, being not there present myself, have I by the credible report of the Right Worshipful Sir Anthony Saint-leger, and partly of Richard Haywood, and John Webb, gentlemen, with others of good credit at the hearing thereof present themselves, as far forth as my poor wit and memory would serve me, here truly rehearsed unto you.

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