FR. ANDREW WRITES:-
The terrible memory of the events of Monday in Manchester lingers on, as does the uncertainty of the terrorist situation. It has been touching to see basic Christian values being put into play, people supporting each other, offering help, support and accommodation.
Someone who gave this country so much in terms of Christian values was St Augustine of Canterbury, whose Feast Day we celebrated on Saturday. St Augustine was a great evangelist and first Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a monk in Italy for many years at the monastery of St Andrew on the Caelian Hill, which had been founded by Gregory the Great who later became Pope. Pope Gregory called Augustine to be a missionary. This was a remarkable decision given that Augustine had spent all those years in a monastery and indeed was its Prior! (www.catholic.online)
St Augustine was sent with several monks to England. They had heard reports that the English were warlike and hostile and when in Gaul (France) were tempted to go back to Rome but Pope Gregory encouraged them to continue. They landed in Kent and were met by King Ethelbert and his entourage. Ethelbert was married to Bertha, a Gaulish Christian. Although not Christian, Ethelbert was sympathetic towards St Augustine and his monks. The monks were allowed to practice their religion and built a monastery in Canterbury. Eventually King Ethelbert asked to be baptised and although he did not make baptism compulsory for his people, many of them chose to be baptised. Apparently 10,000 were baptised on Christmas Day 597.
St Augustine’s Feast is a celebration of Christianity in this country. A Christian presence had been present from Roman times. There was also the ‘Celtic’ Church but this was in a diminished state. It was under St Augustine that many people were brought to the Faith. And this was through a clever process of assimilation, whereby pagan temples were consecrated for Christian worship and pagan days became feast days. He also established dioceses in Rochester and London. It has been said that St Augustine helped draft the first versions of written law in this country. (Source: Fr M Holden from ‘St Augustine of Canterbury’ in ‘A Year with the English Saints’ CTS, 2014, pp. 42-45)
Let us give God thanks for the Christian heritage that St Augustine of Canterbury has left us and ask him to pray for us and for our country that it may continue to grow strong in the Faith and show those Christian values to the world.
St Augustine of Canterbury…pray for us.