In 2020 there are planned commemorations of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. King Henry II blew his top, shouted words to the effects of ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest? and four knights clunked off towards Canterbury, thinking the King would reward them well if they disposed of Thomas. The rest, as they say, is history. Henry was publicly flogged for his part in the crime and Thomas Becket became a popular saint, in fact one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages.
As part of the commemorations, Canterbury has applied to the Vatican to have Becket’s blood-stained tunicle returned to England for a time. Apparently, rumour has it that Henry VII gave the relic to Rome as part of a trade off in 1485, hoping that if they got the bloodied vestments, they in turn would make the Lancastrian Henry VI a saint.
His ploy didn’t work. Henry VI remained un-beatified and the Vatican kept the tunicle, which most likely saved it from destruction when Henry VII’s son Henry VIII had the saint’s shrine destroyed.
A few years ago, the item was examined by forensic specialists who believe it is indeed authentic, unlike many other relics.