St. Augustine of Canterbury, Evangelizer of England
- Commemorated on May 26
Saint Augustine was from Italy, and a disciple of St Felix, Bishop of Messana. St. Gregory Dialogus (March 12) chose him to lead a mission of forty monks to evangelize the people of Britain. They arrived at Ebbsfleet (on the isle of Thanet) in Kent in 597.
King Ethelbert, whose Frankish wife Bertha was a Christian, welcomed them. They were allowed to base their mission at the ancient church of St Martin in Canterbury, which was restored for their use. This church had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain, and the queen often went there to pray. At first, the king was reluctant to give up his pagan beliefs, but he promised not to harm them, and to supply them with whatever they needed. He also promised that he would not prevent them from preaching Christianity. St Augustine later converted the king to Christianity, along with thousands of his subjects. The holy right-believing King Ethelbert is commemorated on February 25.
Bede says that St. Augustine was consecrated as Archbishop of Britain by Archbishop Etherius of Arles (others say that it was his successor St. Virgilius of Arles [March 5] who consecrated St Augustine). Returning to Britain, he threw himself into the work of evangelizing the country with renewed zeal. St Augustine built Christ Church, predecessor of the present cathedral at Canterbury, and consecrated it on June 9, 603 (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). He also founded the monastery of Sts Peter and Paul east of the city. Here St Augustine, the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Kings of Kent were buried. The monastery, now in ruins, was later known as St Augustine's Monastery.
The saint was instrumental in founding the dioceses of Rochester and London. In 604 he consecrated St Justus (November 10) and St Mellitus (April 24) as bishops for those Sees. St Augustine also helped the king draft the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws, and founded a school in Canterbury.
Saint Augustine was not completely successful in all his efforts, however. He was not able to achieve unity with the already existing Christian communities who followed Celtic practices. He met with some of their bishops to urge them to abandon their Celtic traditions and to accept the Roman practices. He invited them to cooperate with him in evangelizing the country, but they refused to give up their ancient traditions. . Before meeting with St Augustine in 603, the Celtic bishops asked a holy hermit whether or not to accept Augustine as their leader. The hermit replied, "If he rises to greet you, then accept him. If he remains seated, then he is arrogant and unfit to be your leader, and you should reject him." Unfortunately, St Augustine did not rise to greet them. Perhaps St Augustine was, to some degree, a bit tactless and too insistent on conformity to Roman customs. On the other hand, Celtic resentment against Roman authority also contributed to the stormy relationship.
Known in his lifetime as a wonderworker, St Augustine fell asleep in the Lord on May 26, 604. He was laid to rest at the entrance of the unfinished church of Sts Peter and Paul. When the church was dedicated in 613, his holy relics were placed inside. An epitaph was composed for his tomb. In part, it reads: "Here lies the Lord Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, sent here by blessed Gregory, bishop of the city of Rome, who with the help of God, and aided by miracles, guided King Ethelbert and his people from the worship of idols to the Faith of Christ."
St Bede (May 27) gives detailed information about St Augustine's mission to Britain in his HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE (Book I, 23-33. Book II, 1-3).
George C. Thomas, Kuwait
- --- In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, "george_cthomas" <george_cthomas@...> wrote:
>Thank You Mr. George Thomas for posting the articles from OCA . However a word of caution when it comes to understanding the articles from the Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodox tradition ,including OCA.
> Commemorated on May 26
> Saint Augustine was from Italy, and a disciple of St Felix, Bishop of Messana. St. Gregory Dialogus (March 12) chose him to lead a mission of forty monks to evangelize the people of Britain.....>et) in Kent in 597.
We should also take the pain to point out that there will be differences from the Non Chalcedonian Church some which could be significant . Example is St gregory Dialogus whom the EO commemorate as a saint is not a saint in our tradition and the ' Pre Scantified Liturgy attributed to him todate is not followed in the Non Chalcednian Oriental Orthodox tradition .
Also regarding the date of Kent in 597 and St. Augastine of Cantebury is only the tradition which the OCA has learned or copied what they inherited from the Russian and beyond that from the Greek Chalcedonian Church or the Roman Catholic tradition which was a part of the EO till 1054.
For a more elaborate discussion on this , Please listen to Bishop Seraphim of the British Orthodox Church under the Coptic Patriachate
For quite some time, there is a tendency begining even among Sunday school syllabus preperators to look so much at the EO tradition without the pain to look within our tradition.
In all this, May Lord have mercy and we see more and more of our own shortcomings as individuals
- Appreciate Mr George Varghese for posting insight about the Sainthood. Instead of studying about the life and works of saints, and history of Byzantine Orthodox Churches and work towards competete reconciliation, we are wasting our time having ecumenical talks and prayers with heterodox communities.
Orthodox Churches have compromised Apostolic Canons by joining heterodox WCC. Only an observer role should have been assumed by all Orthodox Churches in WCC instead of membership.
George C. Thomas, Kuwait
- "george_cthomas" <george_cthomas@...> wrote
> Appreciate Mr George Varghese for posting insight about the Sainthood. Instead of studying about the life and works of saints, and history of Byzantine Orthodox Churches and work towards competete reconciliation, we are wasting our time having ecumenical talks and prayers with heterodox communities. Orthodox Churches have compromised Apostolic Canons by joining heterodox WCC. Only an observer role should have been assumed by all Orthodox Churches in WCC instead of membership.<As much as I understand the sympathy for Chalcedonian Orthodox
Let us try to correct these first:
1. Our own shortcoming without having many translators and teachers of faith ,
2.Or own blind eye at any thing by Syrian Orthodox Church with whom we share in communion with because we have a problem with a faction called Jacobite Syrian community,
3/. Let us each of the OO that we share in communion with having each their own problems and living within their own cocoons be it cultural or otherwise and see to emphasise that that we need each other
4. Try to practise and encourage ourselves to live out our own faith by looking deeper at what we have and seek comfort that the glorious return to Holy Orthodox Christianity among those of Indian Origin, whether we are in India or elsewhere has still the potential to happen if we are willing earnestly to live it out with His mercy.
I donot write much beacuse of my own limitations but had to before it gets too offsetted . For example George posted and took the pain to correct a posting on st Ephraim whom we donot consider as a saint and the rightful Saint and Patriach at that period was St. Severus of Antioch as corrected by my friend Mathew G.M of Jacobite Syrian community and we follow and copy as if a book by Bishop Kallistos or teaching by Chalcedonian friends is the all and everything on Holy Orthodox Christianity when we had a living teacher like HG Mar Ivanios and his teachings as written by those who heard him in Malayalam. Our faith is simple and we don't want to do anything with it just like the man who buried his coins. To change the effort should be as individuals is my feeling on this.
Thank You and keep in prayer
P.S - About W.C.C , NCC or ecuminical forums those who are active there, my only suggestion is that we can be participants but first look within themselves and the Church to see if we really are practising what we teach as a Church and ask honestly what is the most important