St. Augustine was born in Rome, Italy. When he grew up, he became a monk. Years later he was made 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 or the Good News of Jesus to the people of England.
Abbot Augustine and the monks started on their journey for the British Isles. When they reached southern France, people warned them that the Celts in England were fierce. The monks felt discouraged and frightened.
They asked Augustine to go and ask the pope's permission to give up the whole idea. He did, but the pope would not change his mind. He said that the people in England 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. When they landed, the monks formed a procession and 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 asking the pope for 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 because the miracles were worked by God through him.
He worked to make peace between the Celtic churches and the Church of Rome. It was there that he was buried. At Canterbury, St. Augustine built a church and a monastery, which became the most important in England. St. Augustine died seven years after his arrival in England, on May 26, 605.