The year 2020 marks the 850th anniversary of the murder of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Images of this event, scenes from his wider life and, most famously, depictions of miracles said to have occurred at his tomb, appeared in stained glass windows in England and elsewhere in Europe.
From the 3rd issue of Vidimus onwards, articles about St Thomas Becket have made regular appearances in our pages, whether as features, book reviews or news items (see Vidimus 03). This year may see others, as numerous events are set to be held in the UK to commemorate what has been called ‘one of the most shocking crimes in European history’. These include a range of exhibitions, conferences and lectures as well as plays, film screenings and religious services. [Fig 1]
Perhaps the largest and most significant exhibition will open in October at The British Museum in London. It will showcase more than 100 objects associated with the murdered archbishop, including manuscripts, jewellery, sculpture, stained glass and paintings. The exhibition will feature loans from around the world, as well as artefacts from the museum’s collection such as caskets made in Limoges (France) in about 1200 to hold relics of the saint (see: https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/thomas-becket).
Also in the capital, The Museum of London will display a selection from its collection of Becket-related pilgrim badges. For over 300 years, Londoners flocked to Becket’s shrine in Canterbury often returning with a badge as a keepsake. The Museum of London will use a range of examples to illustrate Becket’s extraordinary life and his connections to the capital. Visitors will be encouraged to undertake their own mini-pilgrimage through the Museum’s Medieval London Gallery from 14 February to October 2020.
There will also be a number of events in Canterbury itself as part of a conservation, education and interpretation project at the Cathedral (completion 2021). These will include a major international conference, see: https://becket2020.com/event/1 .