Archive for the ‘St. Mellitus’ Tag

Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury (May 26)   2 comments

Above:  England, 600 C.E.

Image scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1968)

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SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY (DIED MAY 26, 604 OR 605)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Anglican feast day = May 26

Roman Catholic feast day = May 27

Alternative feast day = May 28

In 596 our saint was the Prior of the Monastery of St. Andrew, Rome.  If he had remained there, he would have been at most a footnote in history.  That year, however, Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” appointed him to lead a group of 30 or so missionary monks to southern England.  The Christian Gospel had most likely come to the island of Britain with the Roman army.  In the wake of Roman withdrawal and pagan invasions, however, the Celtic Church was present mostly in the western and northern regions of the island.

The Italian-born monk and his entourage arrived in the Kingdom of Kent in 597.  King Ethelbert of Kent (reigned circa 597-616) and his Frankish Christian wife, Bertha (both saints in the Roman Catholic Church), welcomed them.  With royal support the monks settled in Canterbury and began to preach.  That year, at Arles, he became a bishop.  Four years later St. Gregory the Great promoted St. Augustine to the rank of Archbishop.  As the first Archbishop of Canterbury St. Augustine ordained priests, consecrated bishops (including St. Mellitus, a subsequent Archbishop of Canterbury), consecrated the cathedral at Canterbury, presided over the construction of the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul (later renamed St. Augustine’s), converted King Ethelbert and many royal subjects, and attempted to united the Celtic and Roman Catholic Churches.  He did not live long enough to witness the completion of the final goal at the Synod of Whitby (664).

The year of St. Augustine’s death is uncertain.  The official website of the Archbishop of Canterbury states that he died between 604 and 609.  The 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica lists his death as occurring no earlier than 604 and probably before Easter 607.  The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Second Edition, 1974) states that our saint died in either 604 or 605.  The 1962 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana provides 604 as the year of his death.  Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) lists 605 as the year of his death.   Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), resources of The Episcopal Church, also list the year of St. Augustine’s death as 605.

St. Augustine of Canterbury, with help from other saints (not all of them canonized), laid a fine foundation for the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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O Lord our God, by your Son Jesus Christ you called your apostles

and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations:

We bless your holy Name for your servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury,

whose labors in propagating your Church among the English people we commemorate today;

and we pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, and bide your time, and see your glory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Tobit 13:1, 10-11

Psalm 66:1-8

2 Corinthians 5:17-20a

Luke 5:1-11

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 389

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Feast of St. Mellitus (April 24)   1 comment

England 600

Above:  England, 600 C.E.

Image Source = Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1967)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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 St. 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

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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.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 716

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