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Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Augustine of Canterbury, Saint (ôˈgəstēn, –tĭn; ôgŭsˈtĭn) [key], d. c.605, Italian missionary, called the Apostle of the English, first archbishop of Canterbury (from 601). A Roman monk, he was sent to England, as the head of some 40 monks, by Pope St. Gregory I. Arriving in 597, they were well received by King Æthelbert, who was converted by Augustine, thus making him the first Christian king in Anglo-Saxon England. Æthelbert gave the monks land at Canterbury, and a church was built on the site of the present cathedral. A monastery was also founded. Augustine's mission, introducing the more flexible and organized Roman usages, was resented by Celtic monks of the British isles, whose austerities were disparate and more severe and who kept a different date of Easter. Their differences were eventually settled in 663 at the Synod of Whitby, when England abandoned Celtic practices. Feast: May 28 (May 26 in England and Wales).

See Bede's Ecclesiastical History; biography by H. Chadwick (1986); studies by E. Easwaran (1985) and T. A. Hand (rev. ed. 1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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