This Week in Christian History: Henry VIII, USSR church crackdown, Thomas Becket

Henry VIII excommunicated – December 17, 1538

Henry VIII
King Henry VIII, (1491-1547). |

This week marks the anniversary of when King Henry VIII of England was excommunicated by Pope Paul III over the monarch’s marriage to Anne Boleyn after divorcing his first wife and declaring himself head of the Church of England.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church had excommunicated Henry VIII on Aug. 30, 1535, but then opted to suspend the order hoping that the English king would change course.

“[Henry VIII] has since gone to still further excesses, having dug up and burned the bones of St, Thomas of Canterbury and scattered the ashes to the winds, (after calling the saint to judgment, condemning him as contumacious, and proclaiming him a traitor), and spoiled his shrine,” declared the December excommunication.  

“He has also spoiled St. Augustine’s monastery in the same city, driven out the monks and put in deer in their place.”

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