Born at Hambledon, Buckinghamshire, England, about 1218; died at Orvieto, Italy, 25 August, 1282.
He was the son of William de Cantelupe and Millicent de Gournay, and thus a member of an illustrious and influential family. He was educated under the care of his uncle, Walter de Cantelupe, Bishop of Worcester, first at Oxford then at Paris. During his studies he attended the Council of Lyons in 1245, when he became a papal chaplain. Returning to Oxford, he taught canon law, and in 1262 was elected chancellor of the university.
In the Barons' Wars he took the popular side and stated the Barons' case before St. Louis at Amiens, 1263. After the defeat of Henry III at the battle of Lewes he was made chancellor of England (22 February, 1265), gaining wide renown for his judicial wisdom and fairness. Deprived of the chancellorshp on the death of Simon de Montfort, he went into exile, lecturing at Paris on theology and Scripture (1265-72). He then resumed teaching at Oxford till 1274 when he attended the second Council of Lyons.
He held several benefices which he administered most zealously, appointing responsible vicars, visiting them regularly, and showing himself a model pastor by his holiness and wide charity. In June, 1275, he was appointed Bishop of Hereford, and was consecrated by his friend Cardinal Kilwardby (8 September, 1275). As bishop he continued his apostolic life, labouring incessantly for the good of his people, maintaining the privileges and property of his diocese against Gilbert of Gloucester, Llewellyn, and others, supporting Edward I in his struggle with Llewellyn, and reforming the clergy, secular and regular. He came into conflict with Archbishop Peckham on questions of jurisdiction, and at the Council of Reading (July, 1279) led the resistance of the bishops to the policy of Peckham.
His personal differences with Peckham led first to his withdrawal to Normandy that he might avoid an interdict and appeal to Rome, and subsequently in 1282 to his actual excommunication by the archbishop. He then went to Rome to plead his own cause before Pope Martin IV, who received him kindly. But his failing health succumbed to the fatigue of the journey and the summer heat. He was buried at Orvieto, but subsequently his relics were brought back to Hereford, where many miracles were wrought by his intercession and his shrine became second only to that of St. Thomas of Canterbury. He was canonized by John XXII (17 April, 1320), and his festival, formerly observed on 2 October, is now kept in England on 3 October.
Propers for Thomas of Hereford - Teacher and Bishop
O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant Thomas of Hereford , may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Epistle - Hebrews 12: 1-2.
The Gospel - St. Matthew 25:31-40.
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