278 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
for quite some time. Unable to receive the declaration from Pope Clement
VII, the king formally broke from the Catholic Church and declared him-
self the Supreme Head of the Church of England. If Rome would not grant
him an annulment, his own church would. On May 15, 1532, all the English
bishops (save St. John Fisher) submitted to the king as their new head. The
following day, St. Thomas More resigned as Chancellor.
In 1534, the English Parliament passed the Act of Succession, which
acknowledged the offspring of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, rather
than the daughter born to Queen Catherine, as the true heir to the English
throne. The nobility and clergy were called to ascribe to an oath uphold-
ing the act, and as one of the most respected laymen in the country,
so was More. However, More chose to uphold the indissolubility of mar-
riage and refused to take the oath. Even faced with death, St. Thomas
More would not act against his conscience. As a result, on July 1, 1535, St.
Thomas More was tried in Westminster Hall and convicted of high treason.
On July 6, he was led to execution outside the Tower of London. In his final
words before being beheaded, he referred to himself as “the king’s good
servant, and God’s first.” As a martyr who died for his faith, St. Thomas
More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. He was later canonized by
Pope Pius XI in 1935.
In this text we cite the stories of othermarriedpeople—suchas Elizabeth
Seton, Pierre Toussaint, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Orestes Brownson, Cesar
Chavez, John Boyle O’Reilly, and Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi—from
the viewpoint of various teachings witnessed in their lives. God’s grace
blessed them with the faith and virtues that flourished in the marital state.
In turn, married people have enriched the life of the Church by their faith
and love and by the children whom they have raised and formed in the
Christian tradition. Marriage is a Sacrament at the Service of Communion.