Augustine of Canterbury

(475 words)
  • Hugh Magennis (Queen's University Belfast)

Augustine was the first archbishop of Canterbury, having been sent to Anglo-Saxon England as the leader of a group of missionaries by Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great). His life and career while in England are known in considerable detail from Bede's account in his Ecclesiastical History, but we have only the sketchiest of information about his earlier life.

Augustine, presumably an Italian, is known to have studied under Felix, bishop of Messana, and to have been a monk at the monastery of St Andrew on the Caelian Hill at Rome, where he became prior. In 596 he was selected by Gregory to lead a mission to convert the English. Bede relates the famous story, “handed down by tradition”, as he puts it non-commitally, that …

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Magennis, Hugh. "Augustine of Canterbury". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 September 2002
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]