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Bulletin May 30, 2021

Saint Augustine of Canterbury: If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again

Statue-Saint-Augustine-of-Canterbury

Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons. It was a bold, some say foolhardy gesture, since Rome was crumbling all around Gregory and the Western Church was in grave disrepair. It was innovative to send a band of monks and not an archbishop with a suitable retinue to greet the heathen king in Kent especially considering the rival kingdoms in France and Brittany through which the hapless band had to pass.

The mission failed the first time; Augustine returned to Rome for more letters of introduction from the pope, fortification for his frightened band and the promise that Augustine would be ordained an archbishop when he reached Arles. This time, they reached Kent after great delay and eventually converted the king himself. Even so, his mission never achieved much success beyond the borders of Kent since he was unable to win over the English bishops to Gregory's insistence on the Roman Church's determination for the date of Easter and a more Roman church discipline. 

He is considered the first Archbishop of Canterbury and influenced the shape of monasticism in England. 

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