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St Ethelbert of Kent

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Saint Of The Day

King. Born in 560, Ethelbert was the Anglo Saxon king who welcomed St Augustine and his monks when they arrived in Kent, in 597. His wife Bertha, a Frankish princess, was already a Christian and he was soon converted. Although he embraced his faith with enthusiasm, unlike some of his contemporaries, he did not try to force his subjects to become Christians. Instead he gave the missionaries every help to peacefully promote the Gospel.

He built St Andrew's Cathedral in Rochester and played a part in the conversion of his neighbour King Sabert of the East Saxons. He also built the first St Paul's Cathedral in London. Pope Gregory the Great was very pleased with King Ethelbert. He wrote: " By means of the good gifts that God has granted to you, I know he blesses your people as well."

St Ethelbert was the most influential ruler in Southern England. His code for laws in Kent was the earliest known written document written in a Germanic language. He died in Canterbury in 661. An unofficial cult to him is thought to have begun from the earliest times.

See also: ICN 21 February 2016 Kent: Mass for anniversary of St Ethelbert at Shrine of St Augustine

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