St Ælfheah: Canterbury’s other martyr

The notorious murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 has overshadowed that of an earlier archbishop of Canterbury, St Ælfheah, who died 1,000 years ago. Sarah Foot relates his story

The death of Aelfeah at the hands of the Danes, portrayed in a window of St Luke's church, Bath. (Photo by: MyLoupe/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the April 2012 edition of BBC History Magazine

As Thomas Becket fell to the floor of his cathedral church in Canterbury on 29 December 1170, fatally wounded by the blows of Henry II’s four knights, he commended his soul to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his last breath, he called also on the patron saints of his cathedral, among them his 11thcentury predecessor, St Ælfheah (also known as St Alphege).

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