On This Day: 800 year anniversary of the translation of the relics of Saint Thomas Becket to his new shrine in Canterbury Cathedral

Today is the feast of the Translation of St Thomas Becket, when his relics were translated to his new shrine into the Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral – on 7th July 1220. To celebrate Becket’s Translation, we’ve compiled a list of various resources, articles & events that are taking place.

Article: Modelling the Cult of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral by Dr John Jenkins

As part of an AHRC project, a team at the University of York created digital models of the major spaces of St Thomas Becket’s cult in Canterbury Cathedral in the early 15th century. Dr Jenkin’s article explains the reasoning behind the choices made in planning and constructing the models, and details much of the underpinning research. The models offer as much, if not more, an argument about the use and experience of space within the cathedral, as they do ‘accurate’ depictions of architecture and furnishings. Focusing particularly on the shrine in the Trinity Chapel, but also explicating the scenes in the Corona, Martyrdom and tomb chapels, this article explores the ways in which access and exclusion, in both physical and sensory terms, shaped the nature of the cult and pilgrimage experience in medieval Canterbury.

Published in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, May 2020.

You can read the article here.

Blog post: The Miracles of St Thomas Becket by Professor Rachel Koopmans

In examining a piece of stained glass from the miracle windows at Canterbury Cathedral, which depicts St Thomas Becket emerging from his Shrine to heal a sick man, Professor Rachel Koopmans explains that the importance of the panel remains in ‘the power, effectiveness and energy of Becket’. Whilst this panel does not depict the shrine, the glaziers provided an image of the power of the cult of Becket for worshippers.

You can read about Becket’s shrine and the stained glass here.

Lecture: Tom Nickson, On Pilgrimage: Light and the Cult of St Thomas Becket

Listen to Dr Tom Nickson’s lecture ‘On Pilgrimage: Light and the Cult of St Thomas Becket’. Tom will be considering the role of light in Becket’s lives, miracles, and liturgy, as well as its place in his cult and its architectural setting.

This lecture forms part of Durham University’s On Pilgrimage programme

Find out more here & listen to the lecture here.

Website Resource: The Becket Story: The Life, Death and Influence of St Thomas Becket

The Becket Story is a wonderful resource that provides Recreations of medieval Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral, Scholarship on Becket and medieval London by leading academics, a timeline of Becket’s life and death, and so much more.

This online resource has been created by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, and generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and The Mercers Company.

Have a look at The Becket Story website here.

Blog post: Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library

The British Library has written a blog post which provides an overview of the history of the Translation of St Thomas Becket’s relics to the new shrine in the Trinity Chapel. This post includes a look at some of the illuminated lives of St Thomas Becket, as well as English medieval calendars that include this translation date as a feast day.

To discover more about Thomas Becket, you can read the British Library’s earlier blogposts about Becket’s translationBecket’s martyrdom and erasing references to Becket in manuscripts.

Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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