Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 17:36 UK

Celebrating St Thomas Cantilupe

Embroidery of Saint Thomas Cantilupe  of Hereford
St Thomas had a fiery personality and is depicted with a flame-red beard

Craftsmen are close to finishing an elaborate embroidery depicting the life of Saint Thomas Cantilupe of Hereford.

He was one of three saints associated with the city cathedral, despite being excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury over inheritance rights.

St Thomas died in 1282 shortly after being received by the Pope.

The embroidery is due to be hung at the saint's shrine on 8 November and is the final phase of a cathedral project to encourage pilgrims.

Saint's life

Thomas Cantilupe was born in 1218 to a large, wealthy family in Buckinghamshire. His father was a royal steward and his uncle was the Bishop of Worcester.

He was educated at the University of Oxford and later studied in Paris.

He then went on to become the Bishop of Hereford and was accredited with many miracles during his lifetime, including the resurrection of a young boy in his travelling party who fell into a river and drowned.

Embroiderer at work
The embroidery will be hung above the saint's shrine

Dominic Harbour, a spokesman for Hereford Cathedral, said: "St Thomas isn't very well known now, but at the end of the 13th Century his shrine was the second most popular pilgrimage destination in England after St Thomas Beckett of Canterbury."

The embroidery, by Croft Designs ecclesiastical outfitters, features 12 scenes in the saint's life and will hang above the shrine in the cathedral's North Transept.

St Thomas was excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Peckham, over an inheritance row.

Through inheritance he had amassed great personal wealth, which he used on several occasions to save the King from bankruptcy.

Church rules required him to leave all his money to the Church but he successfully contested this and had the law overturned by the Pope, although he was only accepted again by the Church on his deathbed.

Exhumed cardinal to lie in state
01 Oct 08 |  West Midlands

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