A fragment of elbow bone, a relic thought to be part of the body of Thomas Becket was due to arrive here in London from Hungary on Monday to make a journey that will include visits to Westminster Cathedral and Houses of Parliament. As Archbishop of Canterbury, Becket was murdered more than seven hundred years ago after challenging the authority of King Henry II. This report was compiled by Nick Miles.
A man I raised from nothing. A man I loved.
King Henry’s fateful words.
A priest who mocks me.
They were overheard by some eager-to-please knights who proceeded to murder Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Three years later, he was made a saint. And his reputation as someone who dared to challenge royal authority spread throughout Europe. Fragments of his body took on huge spiritual significance. And it’s one of those relics that’s returning from a church in Hungary today. Cardinal Vincent Nichols is head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
It’s a return journey eight hundred years late. Becket precisely stood for the independence of the Church from the prevailing power of the time. So the reformation church in this country worked very hard to obliterate every reference to Becket, because he reminded the whole of Christianity of the need to stand against a prevailing civil power.
Becket’s legacy of opposition to the power continued into the 20th century. For many years, the relic kept in Hungary was seen as a symbol of defiance against authorities. Péter Szabadhegy is Hungary’s ambassador to the UK.
That symbol of resistance has, for this trip at least, become one of unity between the Catholic and Anglican churches. Later this week, a service on site of Becket’s bloody murder, in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, will be held by a Catholic priest.
Our relic correspondent Nick Miles.
He is China’s richest man and he’s opened an entertainment complex that’s meant to be the first of several planned for the country. He’ll be competing with the US entertainment giant Disney which will soon open its own theme park in Shanghai. The billionaire Wang Jianlin believes that Chinese people should stop fawning over foreign cultures. Michael Bristol has this report.
Wang Jianlin’s theme park in the city of Nanchang has terrifying roller coasters. It also has shops, restaurants, hotels and an aquarium. Mr. Wang plans to build fifteen of them across China.