St Paulinus of York

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Monk and first bishop of York. Paulinus was one of the second group of monks sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great in 601. King Edwin of Northumbria, had invited the missionaries because he wanted to become a Christian and marry Ethelburga, the Christian sister of Edbald, King of Kent.

Paulinus hoped the Northumbrian people would follow their king's example. After Edwin was baptised, in a wooden church at York, the pagan high priest Colfi and many more families asked Paulinus to baptise them too. He conducted large ceremonies in the River Swale near Ketterick, the Glen near Yeavering and elsewhere in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. At Lincoln he built a church of stone in around 628.

Edwin was killed at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633 by the pagan Penda of Mercia and his Welsh Christian ally Cadwollon. Ethelburga returned to her family in Kent. Paulinus accompanied her. He was already 60 and felt there was no future for Christianity in the North without King Edwin. He was made Bishop of Rochester and stayed in Kent for the rest of his life.

Bede describes him as 'a tall man with a slight stoop, who had black hair, a thin face and a narrow aquiline nose, his presence being venerable and awe-inspiring.'

Five ancient churches were dedicated to him. St Paulinus died on this day in 644. His feast is especially observed in monasteries in the north.

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