Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, December 30, 2016

John of Salisbury on Becket and the Freedom of the Church

From Letter 307/304 of the Letters of John of Salisbury, from John to Bishop John Belmeis of Poitiers, circa January, 1171:
"When that martyr was about to suffer before the altar in the Church, as has been said, before he was attacked, when he heard himself asked for by the soldiers who had come among the crowd of clerics and monks for this purpose shouting 'Where is the Archbishop?' he came to them from the steps he had almost ascended, saying with a fearless countenance, 'Here I am; what do you want?' One of the murderous soldiers answered him in a spirit of rage, 'Only that you die, for it is impossible for you to live any longer.' The Archbishop replied with no less courage in his speech than in his heart (for, with due respect for all martyrs, I will confidently state as my own opinion that none of them seemed to be more courageous in their suffering than he), 'And I am Willing to die for my God, and for the defense of the justice and freedom of the Church. But if you week (sic) my head, I forbid you on behalf of Almighty God and under threat of anathema to injure any other in any way, whether he be monk or cleric or layman, great or small; but let them be as free from punishment as they were from its cause; for not they, but I am to be held responsible if any of them has taken up the cause of the suffering Church. I willingly embrace death if only the Church will attain peace and freedom by the pouring out of my blood."


Garnett, Rick | Permalink