Above: England, 600 C.E.
Image Source = Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1967)
Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor
SAINT MELLITUS (DIED APRIL 24, 624)
Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury
We know little about the early life of St. Mellitus. He was probably Italian and of noble birth. He might also have been the Abbot of St. Andrew, Rome, leader of the monastery to which Sts. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Gregory I “the Great” had belonged. We do know, however, that St. Gregory I, as the Bishop of Rome, had sent St. Augustine and a team of missionaries a few years before he, at the request of St. Augustine (then the Archbishop of Canterbury) another team of missionaries. The leader of that second team was St. Mellitus.
St. Mellitus became an important figure in the English Church in the 600s. St. Augustine consecrated him a bishop in 604. St. Mellitus, apostle to the East Saxons, established his headquarters at London. He had to go into exile for at least a year in the late 610s because he refused to give sacramental bread to pagan princes. His eventual successor (after decades of a vacancy) as bishop in that region was St. Cedd of Lastingham. St. Mellitus became the third Archbishop of Canterbury in 619. His tenure, during most which he was prone to bad health, was mostly uneventful. He died in office on April 24, 624.
Foundational figures fascinate me, for I know that I am fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants. My faith has much to do with that St. Mellitus, who left his homeland, settled in a foreign country, and engaged in missionary work there. My ancestry is mostly British, so I owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of British Christianity, especially Roman Catholic missionaries to England in the late 500s and early 600s.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 17, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C
THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT, DESERT FATHER
THE FEAST OF SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN MOROCCO
THE FEAST OF EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS, UNITARIAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Mellitus,
whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of England.
Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,
that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 96 or 96:1-7
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 716