It’s dusk in winter, precisely 849 years since the murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. Becket had defended the church against King Henry II, who wanted to subject it to his will. Hearing of the king’s frustration at Becket’s refusal to bend, four of his knights burst into Canterbury Cathedral and killed the archbishop in cold blood on 29 December 1170.

I’m standing with hundreds of others in the cathedral’s crypt, near to where Becket was once buried. We’re each holding a lighted candle, listening to the current archbishop, Justin Welby, as he recalls Becket’s martyrdom, his ...


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