Thesis Title

St. Thomas More's Treatice to Receave the Blessed Body of Our Lorde: An Edition

Graduation Date

Summer 1945

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Degree Granting Institution

Catholic University of America

Program Name



It is far from amazing that Saint Thomas More should have written as one of his last works, A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Sacrament. That the subject was dear to his heart was attested to by a life of devotion to this Sacrament as a private Englishman and also as a public controversialist. But a person might be pardoned for wondering why this Treatise has received so little mention in proportion to the notice given More's other Tower pieces. In modern, as well as in earlier, works concerning More, special mention is made of two of these, The Treatise on the Passion and the Dialog of Comfort. but notice of his Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament is rare. Since More wrote all three, as well as other works, during his fifteen-month imprisonment, almost all that can be said in praise of, or wonder at, one can be said also of the other. The Treatise is a remarkably thorough explanation of doctrine concerning the Blessed Sacrament and it is, as well, a touchingly devotional tract written in vigorous, always apt, sometimes homely, English.

As Professor R. W. Chambers has said, More’s prose belongs to a time which antedates the school of conscious augmenters of our tongue, and he had died before that school swept England with their literary showmanship. Mr. Chambers has pointed out, also, with fine discernment, how More's English prose stems from that of the re­ligious devotional writers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries He laments the passing of More as that of one with whom a good prose style died before its proper seed time. For, subsequent to More's death, his works fell under a ban until the time of Queen Mary Tudor; and after her reign they were suppressed entirely.

Recently, especially since More's canonization, both the man and his works have received widespread recognition. But his collected English works will not be easily accessible until the W. E, Campbell edition of the Rastell Works is completed.

In the present study, an attempt has been made at a limited analysis of the structure and style of More's Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament. as well as its composition and transmission, together with a comparison between it and previous English works on the same subject. The text of the Treatise has been faithfully transcribed as it appears in the Rastell copy used in the preparation of this work. In the Notes. More's Latin citations are verified according to the Vulgate. It will be noticed in this respect that there are slight variations in More's quoted passages; but no attempt has been made to pronounce upon the reason for these: they may have been due to the editing of William Rastell; and they may have been so quoted from memory by More. In either, or any, case, the omissions or Inversions are not vital to an accurate rendering of the Latin text.

No attempt has been made here to establish More's indebted­ness to writings of the Church Fathers or to any other Latin sources, except the Holy Scriptures. Quite obviously there is such an indebtedness, hut just as obviously its treatment belongs in another study.

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