AUGUSTINE of Canterbury d. 604. Prior of the monastery of St. Andrew on the Caelian Mount, was chosen by Gregory in 596 as the leader of the mission to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons of England. On reaching Provence, the missionaries lost heart and returned to Rome, but Gregory encouraged them and sent them out again. Augustine landed ca. Easter 597 at the mouth of the Thames in Kent, whose king Ethelbert was married to the Frankish princess Bertha, a Christian. This circumstance facilitated Augustine’s work; within a short time he could report to Gregory the baptism of 10,000 Angles. Bede HE 1,33 tells us of the baptism of the king a few months after Augustine’s arrival, but this is not certain. Informed of these successes, Gregory sent Augustine the archiepiscopal pallium, along with new instructions and reinforcements of every kind. The intention was that the ecclesiastical province being formed would in the future be divided into two provinces centered in London and York, but it was some time before this plan could be realized. In the meantime Augustine, now archbishop of Canterbury near London, extended the range of his activity into southern England, where he introduced the Benedictine rule, and beyond the Thames, among the eastern Saxons. His contacts 602 or 603 with the British of Wales were unsuccessful; they were for the most part already Christianized, but followed Celtic practices that conflicted with Rome on several points. Some British bishops had talks with Augustine, but mistrusting him in part because he worked among the AngloSaxons, bitter enemies of the British Celts, they did not want to recognize him as primate of England, much less accept the Roman rite for the celebration of Easter and baptism. He died there soon after, 26 May, 604. DHGE 5,427 432; HF. Bing, St. Augustine of Canterbury and the Saxon Church in Kent: Archaeologia Cantiana 62 1949 108- 129; I. Wood, The Mission of Augustine of Canterbury to the English: Speculum 69 1994 1-17.
AUGUSTINE Gallery Photos