Saturday, May 26, 2007

First Pilgrim on the Canterbury Road

Today is the feast day of Augustine of Canterbury, who was a very reluctant missionary. Augustine was just minding his own business as Prior at his quiet monastery in Rome when his bishop, Pope Gregory the Great, decided to send him and forty of his monks to the pagan Anglo-Saxons. They arrived in Britain in the year 597 even though on the way to Britain, Augustine and his monks tried to turn back. However, Gregory "encouraged him to keep going."

Christianity was not new in Britain so there were some ecumenical matters to deal with, and Augustine did not enjoy a reputation as a great organizer. King Ethelbert was tolerant of Christians and allowed Augustine and his monks to use St. Martin's, an old church on the east side of Canterbury which had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain.

In approximately the year 601, Ethelbert was converted to Christianity and brought with him 10,000 of his subjects. About the same time Augustine was ordained Bishop and named "Archbishop of the English Nation." Therefore the church at Canterbury became his Cathedral and the rest, as they say, is history.

Augustine's career was short-lived, as it is believed that he died on May 26 in approximately 605. I wonder if he ever would have dreamed that his legacy would survive more than fourteen hundred years. It just goes to show that sometimes even the most reluctant missionary can be successful beyond his or her wildest dreams.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

No comments: