Saint Thomas More
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By E. E. Reynolds
Laicorum hominum decus et ornamentum—“the glory and ornament of the laity”: thus did Pope Pius XI define St. Thomas More. In this accomplished study of “the king’s good servant, but God’s first,” E. E. Reynolds demonstrates the aptness of that epithet. Placing the primary emphasis on Thomas More’s religious significance, but without neglecting his political and literary legacy, Reynolds produces a richly detailed portrait of this husband and father, lawyer and statesman, and servant to and martyr for Jesus Christ and his Church. To assist in his interpretations and analyses, Reynolds gathers the many threads of previous scholarship on More by T. E. Bridgett, A. F. Pollard, and R. W. Chambers (to name but a few). Especially valuable is the generous provision throughout the book of primary-source material from More’s own works and correspondence, with the spellings modernized for comfortable reading.
Give me thy grace, good Lord, to set the world at nought,
To set my mind fast upon thee. (Saint Thomas More)
In his Preface, Reynolds ascribes the beginning of his interest in Thomas More to Sidney Lee’s Great Englishmen of the Sixteenth Century and his description of “the great paradox of More’s life: here was an enlightened scholar dying for ‘what seems, in the dry light of reason, to be superstition.’” Saint Thomas More: His Life and Works gainsays the very existence of such a paradox: More’s faith in Christ’s Church “is the key to his life and death and glory.”
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Ernest Edwin Reynolds (1894–1981) was an English–Welsh Catholic author and historian. Specializing in the Tudor period and the Protestant Reformation, he wrote over a dozen books, notable among which are his numerous works on Saint Thomas More, his biographies of Saint John Fisher and Margaret Roper, and his study of John Henry Newman, Nicholas Wiseman, and Henry Edward Manning.