Augustine 597 – 604

Apostle of the English, was a Benedictine monk who died 26 may 604. Feast day 26 May.

He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury of the English Orthodox church. Why did he come to Kent land of the Cantwara? King Ethelbert was the King of Kent who was a Heathen, married to Bertha daughter of Charibert former King of Paris, one of the Merovingian Kings of the Franks. One of the agreed gifts of betrothal to his wife, was a church so that she could continue with her Christian worship, her chaplain was Ludhard. The King renovated a derelict Church and it was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, a major patron Saint of the Merovingian Royal family.

This marriage no doubt was an opportunity for Pope Gregory I to send a missionary, who in 596 directed a Prior Augustine of the monastery of Saint Andrew, founded by Gregory. Augustine was not very enthusiastic, but set off with 40 monks to Kent, they turned back in Province to Rome, but Gregory commanded and encouraged him to continue, the journey took nearly a year with stopovers. They landed at Ebbsfleet on the Isle of Thanet on the 26 May 597, whereupon on learning of their arrival, King Ethelbert, who was Bretwalda over other Kings was rowed over to meet Augustine at what is known as St. Augustine cross. Ethelbert permitted Augustine with his monks (he was all so accompanied with Laurance of Canterbury) to settle and preach in Canterbury the capital of Kent, by the end of the Year. Ethelbert with 10,000 of his subjects at Christmas were baptised. Also Augustine was consecrated Bishop of Arles.

Augustine reported his success to Gregory who in 601 sent Mellitus and Justus with others who brought Gregory reply plus the Pallium for Augustine with sacred vessels, vestments, books, relics etc. Gregory directed the new Archbishop to ordain twelve Suffragan Bishops and send a Bishop to York, also for twelve suffragan Bishops this plan never happened nor the primatial. In London at the time it was very venerable to attacks by Pagans, so Canterbury was selected.

Augustine consecrated Mellitus Bishop of London and Justus Bishop of Rochester. Augustine did meet the Bishops of the Celtic Church at Aust/Aust Cliff, Gloucestershire, in an attempt to unite the Church in Britain, but this was premature at that time, the site is named after him. Gregory’s practical common sense approach to Pagan sites and feast days was to consecrate them as Churches and the feasts for martyrs or ceremony days.

Augustine re-consecrated and re-built an old church in Canterbury for his cathedral and founded a monastery nearby, he also restored a church and founded the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul outside the wall.
Major Kings at that time
(There were subject/minor Kings as well)

King of Kent
Aathelbert l (560-616).

King of East Anglia
Raedwald (593-617).

King of Mercia
Pybba (593-606).

King of Bernicia
Aethelfrith (593-617).

King of Deira
Aethelfrith of Bernicia (593-617).

King of Wessex
Ceolwulf (597-611).