Saint Thomas’s hospital in London was founded in around 1106 and was named after Thomas Becket who was made a saint in 1173. Becket was an extremely popular saint, who people believed had miraculous healing powers so he was a good choice to name a hospital after. Thomas was born in London in 1118 and became an ordained priest in 1162 and he later became an archbishop. Becket began to excommunicate his opponents in the church and this angered the king, Henry II.
It began when three Archbishops crowned the heir apparent. It was common in medieval times to crown the King’s heir in the lifetime of his father to prevent disputes about the succession after the king’s death. This was in breach of Thomas’s privilege to fulfil this role and so he excommunicated the priests who took his place at the ceremony.
Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 by four of the king’s knights who misinterpted the King’s angry words, ‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’ thinking that it was a direct order to kill Thomas of Canterbury.
The site of St. Thomas’s death (Note the four swords above where Becket was kneeling in prayer) and the marker of his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral
The early medieval hospital was named after Saint Thomas and was run and staffed by Augustinian monks and nuns. The hospital performed three important functions. Hospitality was given to poor travellers and pilgrims, a home was provided for the destitute and aged, and the sick were nursed. Catholics believe that when they treat those who are despised by society they are in reality showing God their love for him. This is based on the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 35-40: