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St. Laurence of Canterbury,
Archbishop of Canterbury

(Died AD 619)

Laurence was one of the band of missionaries who accompanied St. Augustine of Canterbury to England from Rome in AD 597. He later returned to the Eternal City to tell Pope Gregory the Great of the early conversions in Kent. When he sailed again for Britain in AD 601, he brought with him the Pope's replies to Augustine's questions about church organization in Britain. Augustine chose Laurence to succeed him during his own lifteime: an unusual, though not unheard of, situtaion. He eventually became Archbishop in AD 604; when he endeavoured, without much success, to conciliate the ancient Church of Britain and Scotland and encourage the former to help in the conversion of the Saxons.

After the death of King Aethelberht of Kent, a heathen reaction set in and Bede relates that Laurence was only deterred from leaving the country by a vision of St. Peter who rebuked and chastised him. King Eadbald of Kent, to whom he showed his stripes, thereupon renounced idolatry. He was baptised and the persecution came to an end. Laurence died on 3rd February AD 619.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).


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