Abstract

Abstract:

In 2016, an extraordinary holy relic arrived in England from Hungary: a fragment reputedly of the murdered medieval archbishop, Thomas Becket. The relic found a warm reception at Canterbury Cathedral—the foremost seat of Anglicanism and the scene of Becket's martyrdom—five centuries after saint veneration had been banned by King Henry VIII. In the meantime, Becket had entered popular culture not as a saint but, rather, as a controversial historical figure. This article explores the different ways in which the Anglican church, the Catholic church, the British media, and the general public responded to Becket'smuch publicized "homecoming." Comparing the event to King Richard III's reburial in 2015, it argues that the Becket relic—like the remains of Richard III—blurred, confused, and subverted conceptual boundaries between the sacred and the secular in contemporary Britain.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1703-289X
Print ISSN
1703-289X
Pages
pp. 153-166
Launched on MUSE
2019-09-19
Open Access
No
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