Priory of St. Thomas á Becket

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem ®

Overview

“The Priory of St. Thomas á Becket was created by the Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States of America, which in turn was authorized by the Autonomous Grand Priory of Switzerland, and is recognized by the Grand Magistry of the Order, for the following purposes:

  • To continue the tradition of the orders of the Crusades, in particular that of the "Poor Knights of the Temple" established in 1128 A.D.;
  • To combat in a new crusade modern paganism and oppose the symptoms of decadence in our age’
  • To defend in an ecumenical spirit the common faith of all who believe in one god, and to affect a union of Christianity to fight intolerance and to help in the reassertion of the spirit of chivalry’
  • To preserve and perpetuate the traditions and customs of one of the oldest international military organizations in the world, which was founded in the holy city of Jerusalem between 1118 and 1128 A.D.;
  • To protect and teach the Christian religion, and to aid the needy, lame, blind and afflicted.”

The Priory of St. Thomas á Becket is named for the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury. He was canonized on Ash Wednesday in 1173, only a few years after his death, because of his piety and exemplary dedication to the Holy Mother Church and to those who suffered in his archdiocese.

Becket was born about 1118, or in 1120 according to later tradition. He was born in Cheapside, London, on 21 December, which was the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle. He was the son of Gilbert Beket and Gilbert's wife Matilda. Gilbert's father was from Thierville in the lordship of Brionne in Normandy, and was either a small landowner or a petty knight. Matilda was also of Norman ancestry, and her family may have originated near Caen. Gilbert was perhaps related to Theobald of Bec, whose family also was from Thierville. Gilbert began his life as a merchant, perhaps as a textile merchant, but by the 1120s he was living in London and was a property owner, living on the rental income from his properties. He also served as the sheriff of the city at some point. They were buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral.

One of Becket's father's wealthy friends, Richer de L'Aigle, often invited Thomas to his estates in Sussex where Becket was exposed to hunting and hawking. According to Grim, Becket learned much from Richer, who was later a signatory of the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas.


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