St Augustine of Canterbury

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Bishop and missionary. Known as the Apostle of the English, St Augustine was a Benedictine monk and Prior of St Andrew's in Rome, when Pope Gregory the Great sent him with a band of 40 missionaries to evangelise England. They landed at Ebbsfleet near Ramsgate in 597. Augustine soon converted the local King Ethelbert whose wife Bertha, daughter of the King of Paris, was already Christian. Rather than ban pagan customs his missionaries incorporated some old practices into the Christian worship.

Augustine established his see at Canterbury and founded two more bishoprics at London and Rochester. He died at Canterbury around this time in 605.

From the earliest times St Augustine has been venerated as the evangeliser of the English, although his relatively short mission was confined to a limited area.

No early images of Augustine survive, but he is depicted in 14th century stained glass at Christ Church, Oxford, at Canterbury Cathedral (1470) and in a cycle of miniatures in the breviary of the Duke of Bedford (1424). He is also in 15th century frescoes in the church of St Gregory in Rome.