Gregorian Mission

The Gregorian mission (or Augustinian mission) was sent by Pope Gregory the Great in 596 AD to convert Britain's Anglo-Saxons. Headed by Augustine of Canterbury, by the death of the last missionary in 635 the mission had established Christianity in southern Britain. Along with the Irish and Frankish missions it converted other parts of Britain as well and influenced the Hiberno-Scottish missions to Continental Europe.

By the time the Roman Empire recalled its legions from the province of Britannia in 410, parts of the island had already been settled by pagan Germanic tribes who, later in the century, appear to have taken control of Kent and other coastal regions. In the late 6th century Pope Gregory sent a group of missionaries to Kent to convert Æthelberht, King of Kent, whose wife, Bertha of Kent, was a Frankish princess and practising Christian. Augustine was the prior of Gregory's own monastery in Rome and Gregory prepared the way for the mission by soliciting aid from the Frankish rulers along Augustine's route.

In 597 the forty missionaries arrived in Kent and were permitted by Æthelberht to preach freely in his capital of Canterbury. Soon the missionaries wrote to Gregory telling him of their success and that conversions were taking place. The exact date of Æthelberht's conversion is unknown but it occurred before 601. A second group of monks and clergy was dispatched in 601 bearing books and other items for the new foundation. Gregory intended Augustine to be the metropolitan archbishop of the southern part of the British Isles, and gave him power over the clergy of the native Britons, but in a series of meetings with Augustine the long-established Celtic bishops refused to acknowledge his authority.

Before Æthelberht's death in 616 a number of other bishoprics had been established but after that date, a pagan backlash set in and the see, or bishopric, of London was abandoned. Æthelberht's daughter, Æthelburg, married Edwin, the king of the Northumbrians, and by 627 Paulinus, the bishop who accompanied her north, had converted Edwin and a number of other Northumbrians. When Edwin died, in about 633, his widow and Paulinus were forced to flee to Kent. Although the missionaries could not remain in all of the places they had evangelised, by the time the last of them died in 653, they had established Christianity in Kent and the surrounding countryside and contributed a Roman tradition to the practice of Christianity in Britain.

Read more about Gregorian MissionBackground, Spread of Christianity To Northumbria, Other Aspects, Legacy, See Also

Other articles related to "mission, gregorian mission":

Bede - Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum - Sources
... London, obtained copies of Gregory the Great's correspondence from Rome relating to Augustine's mission ... For the early part of the work, up until the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels that Bede used Gildas's De excidio ... The second section, detailing the Gregorian mission of Augustine of Canterbury was framed on the anonymous Life of Gregory the Great written at Whitby ...
Anglo-Saxon Christianity - Gregorian Mission
... Augustine had served as praepositus (prior) of the monastery of Saint Andrew in Rome, founded by Gregory ... His party lost heart on the way and Augustine went back to Rome from Provence and asked his superiors to abandon the mission project ...
Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum - Sources
... Great's correspondence from Rome relating to Augustine's mission ... For the early part of the work, up until the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels that Bede used Gildas's De excidio ... The second section, detailing the Gregorian mission of Augustine of Canterbury was framed on the anonymous Life of Gregory the Great written at Whitby ...
Gregorian Mission - See Also
... List of members of the Gregorian mission. ...

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