St Mellitus

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Bishop. Saint Mellitus was one of the second band of missionaries sent from Rome to England by Pope Gregory I. He took with him a letter advising Augustine not to destroy the temples of the Saxons, but only their idols. The temples he was told, should be turned into churches, and the pagan feasts adapted to Christian purposes.

In 604 he was consecrated the first bishop of the East Saxons, with his see in London. He converted the King Sabert, but not his sons. When the king died they drove Mellitus out, after he refused their demand to give them the 'white bread' (the Eucharist).

Mellitus withdrew to Gaul for a year with St Justus of Rochester. When he returned to England he was made Archbishop of Canterbury. He built St Mary's Church there.

Mellitus died on this day in 624 and was buried near St Augustine in the abbey church of St Peter and St Paul. Bede said that he was 'noble by birth but yet nobler in mind'.

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