St. Augustine of Canterbury,
Archbishop of Canterbury
(Died AD 604)
Also known as St. Augustine the Less to distinguish him from his illustrious namesake from Hippo. Augustine was chosen by Pope Gregory the Great as leader of the mission sent from Rome for the evangelisation of the English. He landed in the Isle of Thanet in the Spring of AD 597 and, within a year, Aethelbert, King of Kent, was baptised with several thousand of his subjects.
The foundation of Canterbury Cathedral was laid five years later, supposedly, on the site of an old Roman Church. Augustine was consecrated by Vergilius, Archbishop of Arles and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
The alienation between the British Church and the Italian missionaries might have been averted had Augustine recognised the consideration that was due to the Church which had existed in Britain for three centuries, and had been more tolerant of the diversity between British and Roman usage.
He had laid the foundation stone of the Monastery of St. Peter & St. Paul outside Canterbury, later known as St. Augustine's, in the year of his arrival and here he was buried. He died on 26th May, traditionally in AD 604, but possibly as late as 609.
Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).
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