D. Watts, Christians and Pagans in Roman Britain, LondonNew York 1991; D.N. Dumville, Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical History of Late Anglo-Saxon England, Woodbridge 1992; K. Rainsbury Dark, Civitas to Kingdom: British Political Continuity 300 800, Leicester 1994; C.F. Mawer, Evidence for Christianity in Roman Britain: The Small Finds BAR British Series 243, Oxford 1995; D. Watts, Religion in Late Roman Britain: Forces of Change, London-New York 1998; K. Hylson-Smith, Christianity in England from Roman Times to the Reformation, I, From Roman Times to 1066, London 1999; M. Ghilardi, Egregium Albanum fecunda Britannia profert. Albano e i primi santi della Britannia romana: RomBarb 17 2002 1-18. II. Councils. Austin Map The first important council of the British church was held, according to what we learn from the detailed testimony of Bede Hist. eccl. gent. angl. II, 2, around the year 603 the precise date is uncertain in the place called, in the language of the Angles, Augustines Ac Augustine’s Oak, today Worcester, near the River Severn, in southwestern Britain.
Augustine, with the collaboration of the king of Kent, Ethelbert, had called the representatives of the British dioceses to discuss the method of celebrating Easter and to try to persuade them to adopt the Roman ecclesiastical traditions: they were celebrating Easter in the Jewish Quartodeciman manner, from the fourteenth to the twentieth day of the lunar month, with a calculation based on a cycle of 84 years. After long discussions and consultations, the British bishops and doctors refused to accept the Roman tradition, since just as had been predicted to him by a wise hermit consulted before the council began Augustine had remained seated at their arrival at the synod, a gesture interpreted as proof of the disdain which he had for them. Again Bede informs us III, 25 that after many years, in 664, to put an end to the delicate and controversial paschal question, but also to discuss other important questions concerning ecclesiastical usages, it was decided under the presidence of the king of the Northumbrians Oswiu and of his son Alhfrith to convoke a new council in reality it must not have been a council according to the canonical norms in the monastery of Streanaeshalch Whitby, at that time held by the noble abbess Hilda. The protagonists were Colmanus, bishop of Lindisfarne, for the Scots, and Wilfrid, abbot and later bishop of Eboracum, for the English.
King Oswiu, having reminded Wilfrid with the help of a passage of the gospel of Matthew Mt 16:18-19 that it was Christ who conceded to Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, decided in favor of the Roman traditions. Colmanus and his supporters retreated to Scotland III, 26 and from that moment began the predominance of the Roman traditions in English Christianity. Two years after the death of King Oswiu who died of an incurable disease at the age of 58 on 15 February 670 in September of the year 672, the archbishop of Doruvernis Canterbury, Theodore, convoked an imposing council the first regular council which was held in England according to the canonical norm at Herutford Hertford, confirming the Roman rites in opposition to the Celtic ones and formulating the request for more bishops for England, indicating thus the way for an extension of the influence of Canterbury Beda, Hist. eccl. gent. angl. IV, 5. The same Theodore in 680 apparently to discuss and refute the monophysite heresy of Eutyches, but in reality to obey the will of Pope Martin, who, against the monothelite tendencies of the Constantinopolitan emperor Constans, wanted local councils united in all the regions of the Occident, which would confirm his attitudes called at Haethfelth Hatfield a new council of the British dioceses Hist. eccl. gent. angl. IV, 17 and confirmed at that time the adherence of the English bishops to the councils of Nicaea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople II and the Lateran synod of 649. Bede, Hist. eccl. gent. angl. II, 2; III, 25 and 26; IV, 5 and 17; D. Wilkins, Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae, I, London 1737; A.W. Haddan – W. Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, I-III, Oxford 1869-1878; M. Deanesley, The Pre-Conquest Church in England, London 1961; C.R. Cubitt, Anglo-Saxon Church Councils c. 650 c. 850, Leicester 1995.
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