*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 26th of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
So there was this precocious graduate student at Oxford. A world renowned historian came to lecture and was discussing Augustine and his work as a missionary in England. During the Q&A he goes up and said “I have read almost everything Augustine has written and I have NEVER heard any of this”.
The professor responded curtly, “this has been a lecture on Augustine of Canterbury” and the place erupts with laughter.
NOW, if you did not know there were 2 important Augustine’s only about a century apart that is ok. That’s what we are here for.
Today is the feast day across various church bodies for St. Augustine of Canterbury.
Augustine of Canterbury was not from Canterbury- in fact, he was an Italian monk about whose early life we know very little. But we know he rose up the ranks to become the prior of the monastery of St. Andrew in Rome. It is here that he met his friend Gregory who would go on to become the pope known as Gregory the Great.
(This is the Gregory called the “father of church music”… Gregorian chant and all that. Also, FWIW, John Calvin called him the “last good pope” which seems pretty harsh).
A story is told about Gregory that as he was walking one day he came across a public slave auction and saw a group of young cherubic children being sold. Asking what they were called he was told “Angles” and responded, “no, they are angels”. This became his impetus to send his old friend Augustine to the land of Angles and Saxons.
Remember that much of modern England was part of the Roman Empire. Thus, as it began to crumble the Britons were subject to foreign invaders. These Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons., etc…) would essentially re-paganize a land that had been under Christian influence since at least 200.
So what did Augustine of Canterbury do?
- Made the long, arduous trip
- Connected with the Queen of Kent who had Christian parents. She and Augustine helped convert King Aethlebert and in 597 there was a mass baptism of the kingdom on Christmas Day
- Established Canterbury as the seat of authority for the English church- the archbishop of Canterbury is, to today still the leader of the Anglican Church.
Of course, it’s “Anglican” because of Gregory’s desire to convert the “Angles". And he did so with the great apostle to England- St. Augustine of Canterbury whose feast day is today, the 26 of May
The last word comes from the last chapter of the book of Matthew
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie of Indiana not to be confused with Christopher Gillespie of New Jersey.
The show is written and read by one of the dozens of Dan van Voorhis’ since the 17th century.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.