It is said to contain a fragment of St Thomas à Becket’s elbow. And if you go to St Thomas Canterbury Catholic Church, Burgate, Canterbury, there you can see fragments bone and finger in a glass case above the altar. In Rome there are fragments of bone and brain. Apparently bones and a skull were discovered in 1888 but a later study concluded the skull was that of an older man.
The cult of Becket was one of the chief casualties of the Reformation; there was the 1538 Proclamation which mentioned, inter alia, that his image was to be ‘put down and avoided out of all churches, chapels and other places’. His name was to be erased from all liturgical books and his office, antiphons and collects were to be said no more, ‘to the intent that his grace’s loving subjects shall be no longer blindly led and abused to commit idolatry’.
As to the matter of relics it is almost incredible how impudently the world has been cheated. I can mention three relics of our Saviour’s circumcision; likewise fourteen nails which are exhibited for the three by which he was fixed to the cross; three robes for that seamless one on which the soldiers case lots; two inscriptions that were placed over the cross; three spears by which our Saviour’s side was pierced, and about five sets of linen clothes which wrapt his body in the tomb. Besides, they show all the articles used at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and an infinite number of similar impositions. There is no saint of any celebrity of which two or three bodies are not in existence. I can name the place where a piece of pumice stone was long held in high veneration as the skull of Peter.