St. Augustine of Canterbury
St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for a mission dear to his heart. They were to preach the Gospel to the people of England. Abbot Augustine and the monks started on their journey. When they reached southern France, people warned them that the English were fierce. The monks felt discouraged. They asked Augustine to go back to obtain the pope's permission to give up the whole idea. They did, but the pope asked them to go to England just the same. He said that the people wanted to accept the Christian faith. The monks went to England. They arrived in 596.
The missionaries were well received by King Ethelbert, whose wife was a Christian princess from France. The monks formed a procession when they landed. They walked along singing psalms. They carried a cross and a picture of our Lord. Many people received the monks' message. King Ethelbert himself was baptized on Pentecost, 597. Abbot Augustine became a bishop that same year.
St. Augustine often wrote to ask the pope advice. And Pope St. Gregory gave him much holy advice, too. Speaking about the many miracles St. Augustine worked, the pope said: "You must rejoice with fear and fear with joy for that gift." He meant that Augustine should be happy that through the miracles the English were being converted. But he should be careful not to become proud.
At Canterbury, St. Augustine built a church and a monastery, which became the most important in England. It was there that he was buried. St. Augustine died seven years after his arrival in England, on May 26, 605.
We pray with the help of St. Augustine of Canterbury that the fruits of his works continue in our Church.