Rorate Caeli

This is the sign of the Church always, the Sign of Blood

Seven years were my people without my presence;
Seven years of misery and pain.
Seven years a mendicant on foreign charity
I lingered abroad:
Seven years is no brevity.
I shall not get those seven years back again.
Never again, you must make no doubt,
Shall the sea run between the shepherd and his fold.


It is not I who insult the King,
And there is higher than I or the King.
It is not I, Becket from Cheapside,
It is not against me, Becket, that you strive.
It is not Becket who pronounces doom,
But the Law of Christ's Church, the judgement of Rome.


I am here.
No traitor to the King.
I am a priest,
A Christian, saved by the blood of Christ,
Ready to suffer with my blood.
This is the sign of the Church always,
The sign of blood.
Blood for blood.
His blood given to buy my life,
My blood given to pay for His death.
My death for His death.


For my Lord I am now ready to die,
That His Church may have peace and liberty.
T. S. Eliot
Murder in the Cathedral
Our traditional post in honor of Saint Thomas Becket.


  1. what's down the road12:39 AM

    From St Thomas Becket to Archbishop Vincent Nichols... things have changed a bit in the English Church.

  2. Gulielmus2:27 AM

    There was an absolutely stunning production of this play in DC back in about 96 or 97, at the theatre company that used to be at St Patrick's downtown. I had read the play and thought it was good poetry but not good drama-- and was happily proved wrong by an inventive production that brought it to blazing life. The actor who played St Thomas was a professor at GWU, and I can still hear him saying these lines.

  3. Thank you for posting this beautiful excerpt from Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral. May St. Thomas Becket intercede for and inspire all Rorate readers.

  4. Oh, this is the greatest dramatic work in English since the death of Shakespeare. I love Murder in the Cathedral.

  5. Is it any coincidence that when Pope Benedict was in Fatima this year, when commenting on the upcoming centenary of the apparitions in 2017,

    "May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity"?

    The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, allowing greater use of the Old Mass was promulgated on July 7, 2007. (7/7/7/)

    With seven sacraments, gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven angels before the throne of God etc, the number is mystical.

  6. Anonymous1:04 PM

    This poem just fires me up with love and, dare I say, pride for The Roman Catholic Church! What an amazing thing to be a martyr for the love of Our Lord! That's really attractive and so Catholic! (and probably a bit crazy)
    I wonder if I would have the guts to spill my blood for love of Him and His Holy Bride? I have my doubts. Maybe if I wasn't tortured....

    Thinking of that Indian lady, Asia, do we know what happened to her?

    (and)I wonder why Eliot never became Catholic? Does anyone know?

    Barbara, Italy

  7. Anonymous8:47 PM

    "Thinking of that Indian lady, Asia, do we know what happened to her?"

    No news. But she can hardly be in the same class as St. Thomas a Becket, or Roman Catholic Saints and Martyrs as well as ordinary Catholic faithful who have suffered for the Faith.

    This Asia (if that is her name), is apparently a Protestant bible-based Christian. Any persecutions she is undergoing is for her own opinions and views of her particular group or sect, not for the True Faith.
    Therefore, though persecution because of religion is wrong, she can hardly be put in the same catagory of great Saints and Martyres of the Faith.

    She is just faithful to her own principles, regardless of their error and false teaching.
    That's courageous, even though misguided because she is enduring hardship for an erroneous belief system.

  8. Arnold11:40 PM

    Jacques Maritain uttered one of his few jokes on the subject of T. S. Eliot. I can't recall where I read this, but apparently Maritain explained Eliot's failure to become a Catholic (as opposed to an Anglo-Catholic) by saying "He exhausted his capacity for conversion through becoming an Englishman."

  9. Anonymous3:15 PM

    "she can hardly be put in the same catagory of great Saints and Martyres of the Faith."

    Fair enough, she's not in the same category. But some kind of strong love for Christ is present in that lady as she would not be budged into Islamic conversion. It is no small thing ..
    That "hardly" is annoying ...smacks of something I don't superiority. Only God knows the complete circumstances of a life. Maybe a teeny-weeny "m" in martyr for her?
    God bless her!

    Thank you Arnold for the witty quote from Martain. Nice one.


  10. The Great Tom had some unkind things to say of Maritain's work, as well, as I appreciate it, and of course he harbored a liking for Maritain's sometime maitre, Charles Maurras.

    Were he alive today, it is to be hoped that he would be joining us in the Ordinariate.

  11. Anonymous8:02 PM


    Thank you for your comment regarding the woman, Asia. Anonymous is mistaken when he says she is "enduring hardship for an erroneous belief system".

    On the contrary, if one reads the available information, she is being persecuted for her love of Christ -- not attachment to an erroneous belief system.

    Unless the individual is an apologist for a Protestant church, one must distinguish between the individual and the corporate body to which that individual is attached.

  12. Anonymous1:53 PM

    "On the contrary, if one reads the available information, she is being persecuted for her love of Christ -- not attachment to an erroneous belief system".

    Thank you for this and the rest of your post.

    Greetings for a Happy New Year!



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