The English Church in the Middle Ages
The English Church in the Middle Ages
ROME AND IONA.
ST. AUGUSTIN'S MISSION-POPE GREGORY'S SCHEME OF ORGANIZATION-CAUSES OF ITS FAILURE-FOUNDATION AND OVERTHROW OF THE SEE OF YORK-INDEPENDENT MISSIONS-THE SEE OF LINDISFARNE-SCOTTISH CHRISTIANITY-THE SCHISM-THE SYNOD OF WHITBY-RESTORATION OF THE SEE OF YORK.
The Gospel was first brought to the Teutonic conquerors of Britain by Roman missionaries, and was received by the kings of various kingdoms. From the first the Church that was planted here was national in character, and formed a basis for national union; and when that union was accomplished the English State became coextensive with the English Church, and was closely united with it. The main object of this book is to trace the relations of the Church both with the Papacy and with the State down to the new era that opened with the schism in the Papacy and the Wyclifite movement. St. Augustin's landing at Ebbsfleet, 597.Our narrative will begin with the coming of Augustin and his companions in 597 to preach the Gospel to the English people. They landed in the Isle of Thanet. The way had, to some extent, been prepared for them, for Æthelberht, king of Kent, whose superiority was acknowledged as far north as the Humber, had married a Christian princess named Bertha, the daughter of a Frankish king, and had allowed her to bring a priest with her and to practise her own religion. He had not, however, learnt much about Christianity from his queen or her priest. Nevertheless, he received the Gospel from Augustin, and was baptized with many of his people. By Gregory's command, Augustin was consecrated "archbishop of the English nation" by the archbishop of Arles. Æthelberht gave him his royal city of Canterbury, and built for him there the monastery of Christ Church, the mother-church of our country.
Gregory's scheme of organization, 601.
Gregory organized the new Church, in the full belief that it would extend over the whole island. He sent Augustin the "pall," a vestment denoting metropolitan authority, and constituting the recipient vicar of the Pope. Two metropolitan sees were to be established-the one at London, the residence of the East Saxon King Sæberct, who reigned as sub-king under Æthelberht, a crowded mart, and the centre of a system of roads; the other at York, the capital of the old Roman province north of the Humber. Both archbishops were to receive the pall, and to be of equal authority. At the same time, the unity of the Church was ensured, for they were to consult together and act in unison. Both the provinces were to be divided into twelve suffragan bishoprics, and as the northern province took in the country now called Scotland, they were of fairly equal size. This arrangement was not to be carried out until after Augustin's death. As long as he lived all the bishops alike were to obey him, and he was, we may suppose, to continue to reside at Canterbury. Moreover, the clergy of the Welsh or Britons were to be subject to him and to the future archbishops of the English Church. Augustin endeavoured to persuade the Welsh clergy to join him in preaching the Gospel to the Teutonic invaders, and held a meeting with them at or near Aust, on the Severn. But they refused to acknowledge his authority, or even to hold communion with him, and would not give up their peculiar usages with respect to the date of Easter and the administration of Baptism. At Augustin's request, Gregory sent him a letter of instructions as to the government of the Church. It bears witness to the Pope's largeness of mind. While morality and decency were to be enforced, the archbishop was not bound strictly to follow the Roman ritual; if he found anything that he thought would be helpful to his converts in