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Augustine, Archbishop Of Canterbury

AUGUSTINE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (d. c.613), Saint, first archbishop of Canterbury, occupied a position of authority in the monastery of St Andrew at Rome, when Gregory I. summoned him to lead a mission to England in A.D. 596. The apprehensions of Augustine's followers caused him to return to Rome, but the pope furnished him with letters of commendation and encouraged him to proceed. He landed in Thanet in A.D. 597, and was favourably received by Æthelberht, king of Kent, who granted a dwelling-place for the monks in Canterbury, and allowed them liberty to preach. Augustine first made use of the ancient church of St Martin at Canterbury, which before his arrival had been the oratory of the Queen Berhta and her confessor Liudhard. Æthelberht upon his conversion employed all his influence in support of the mission. In 601 Augustine received the pallium from Gregory and was given authority over the Celtic churches in Britain, as well as all future bishops consecrated in English territory, including York. Authority over the see of York was not, however, to descend to Augustine's successors. In 603 he consecrated Christ Church, Canterbury, and built the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul, afterwards known as St Augustine's. At the conference of Augustine's Oak he endeavoured in vain to bring over the Celtic church to the observance of the Roman Easter. He afterwards consecrated Mellitus and Justus to the sees of London and Rochester respectively. The date of his death is not recorded by Bede, but MS. F of the Saxon Chronicle puts it in 614, and the Annales Monasterienses in 612.

See Bede, Eccl. Hist. (ed. by Plummer), i. 23-ii. 3.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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