Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Friday 19 August |
Saint of the Day: St. John Eudes
Aleteia logo
Art & Culture
separateurCreated with Sketch.

The great abbey of St. Augustine marked the rebirth of Christianity in England

Abbey of Saint Augustine

Miles Banbery | Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Daniel Esparza - published on 11/02/19

It functioned as a Benedictine monastery from its foundation in 598 until the English Reformation.

Built in the year 598 by the famous missionary St. Augustine of Canterbury, the “Apostle to the English,” one of the fathers of the English Church and the first bishop of Canterbury, the Abbey of St. Augustine marked the rebirth of Christianity in Southern England.

Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great sent him as the leader of a mission (historically referred to as the “Gregorian Mission”) to (re)christianize Britain. His mission began in Kent, where St. Bertha had married the pagan King Aethelbert. Aethelbert not only supported Augustine’s mission and built a church for Bertha, but also later converted to Christianity, giving the new missionaries led by Augustine a plot of land outside the city walls on which they could build their monastery.


CSNTERV=BURY CATHEDRAL STAINED GLASS

Read more:
Canterbury stained glass discovered to date back to 12th century

It seems the monastery was at first built as a burial place for Anglo-Saxon kings, but it soon became a missionary school, and over time it acquired an extensive library. Its scriptorium produced many manuscripts, thus turning the abbey, quite soon, into a center of preservation and production of knowledge. From this abbey, Christianity spread all around Southern England, marking a rebirth of the Church on the island.

Tradition tells us that after his conversion Aethelbert ordered the church to be built “in splendor,” and to be dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Only after the death of Augustine of Canterbury was this monastery then referred to as St. Augustine’s. Since the monastic community was dissolved after the English Reformation, the abbey was for the most part dismantled until the mid-19th century, when the building began to be used again for educational purposes. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


SAINT AUGUSTINE PREACHING

Read more:
A brief (and slightly biased) history of Christianity in Britain

Tags:
ArchitectureCatholic historyChurch HistoryEngland
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

jour1_V2.gif
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries


Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.