Saint Augustine of Canterbury (England)
This saint is included in Augnet simply to stem confusion that happens when he is mistaken for Augustine of Hippo.
For purposes of distinguishing these two saints, Augustine of Canterbury was previously sometimes described as Augustinus Minor ("Saint Augustine the Less").
Augustine of Canterbury lived almost two centuries after the death of Augustine of Hippo. Augustine of Hippo died in 430 AD, and Augustine of Canterbury died in 604 AD. Their years on this earth did not overlap.
He therefore had no direct connection either with Augustine or with the Order of Saint Augustine.
Although this saint is associated with the early Christian church in England, he certainly was not the first to bring the message of the Bible there.
The Christian Church was established in the British Isles well before the year 300.
Some scholars believe that it was introduced by missionaries from the eastern half of the Mediterranean world that spoke the Greek language.
Celtic Christians had their own distinctive culture, and Greek scholarship flourished in Ireland for several centuries after it had died elsewhere in Western Europe.
However, in the fifth century Britain was invaded by tribes from Germany who were not Christian: the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
They conquered the native Celtic Christians.
This was despite the resistance from, among others, a leader whose story has come down to us, doubtless with some exaggeration, as that of King Arthur.
Those Celtic Christians who fled moved north and west into Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
From these regions Celtic Christian missionaries returned to England to preach about Christ to the fierce new arrivals.
Augustine is sent
Meanwhile, Pope Gregory the Great, who was a Benedictine monk, decided to send missionaries from Rome.
For this task, he chose a group of his monks led by their prior, an Italian monk named Augustine. (He is not to be confused with the more famous Augustine of Hippo
In the year 596 they set out for the wild and barbaric land of the heathen Anglo-Saxons.
When they arrived at Provence in France, stories of the barbaric Anglo-Saxons and the dangers of crossing the channel prompted them to return to the safety of Rome.
Gregory insisted that they leave again, and they landed on the Isle of Thanet in the territory of King Ethelbert of Kent.
Augustine sent word of their arrival to Ethelbert, who received them under and oak tree.
The wife of the king was a Christian, and he gave the monks permission to preach to his people. Augustine baptised Ethelbert on Pentecost in 597.
(Continued on the next page.)