List of members of the Gregorian mission

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The Gregorian mission was a group of Italian monks and priests sent by Pope Gregory the Great to Britain in the late 6th and early 7th centuries to convert and Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism.[1] The first group consisted of about 40 monks and priests, some of whom had been monks in Gregory's own monastery in Rome. After a long trip, during which they almost gave up and returned to Rome, they arrived in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent in 597.[2] Gregory sent a second group of missionaries in 601 as reinforcements, along with books and relics for the newly founded churches.[3] From Kent, the missionaries spread to the East Anglian kingdom and to the north of Britain,[4] but after King Æthelberht of Kent's death, the mission was mostly confined to Kent. Another mission was sent to the kingdom of Northumbria when Æthelberht's daughter married King Edwin of Northumbria around 625. After Edwin's death in 633, a pagan backlash against Christianization occurred, and the mission was again confined to Kent;[2] most of the missionaries fled Northumbria because they feared the pagans who returned to power after Edwin's death.[5]

The main source for information on the missionaries is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum of the medieval writer Bede, written around 731. Bede details several of the members of the mission. Another important source of information is the papal registers which list copies of Gregory's letters sent to the missionaries. Neither source gives a complete listing of the missionaries in either group, so a listing of members must be gathered from scattered references in Bede and Gregory's letters. Although it is known that about 40 people were included in the first group, how many arrived in the second group is unknown. The vagaries of the evidence allow only some of the missionaries to be named.[1]

Many of the known members became bishops or archbishops, while most of the remainder became abbots. The lone exception is James the Deacon, who never held a higher office than deacon in the church.[6] Among the archbishops were the first five Archbishops of Canterbury: Augustine, Laurence, Mellitus, Justus, and Honorius;[1] all of them were later canonized as saints.[7] Two other missionaries, Paulinus and Romanus, also became bishops. The last group of missionaries became the abbots of the monastery founded by Augustine at Canterbury, later known as St Augustine's Abbey after Augustine. The abbots included Gratiosus, John, Peter, Petronius, and Rufinianus.[1] As well as the five archbishops, three other members of the mission are regarded as saints: Peter, James the Deacon, and Paulinus.[8][9][10]

Members[edit]

The date of arrival is either 597 with the first group of missionaries, or 601 with the second group. The date of arrival for some members is not known. The third column lists the highest ecclesiastical office that the missionary obtained. The death dates are not always known, in which case approximate dates are listed. The last column notes if the member is regarded as a saint.

Name Date of arrival
in England
Highest ecclesiastical
office obtained
Death date Canonized
Augustine of Canterbury[11] 597 Archbishop of Canterbury Between 604 and 609[11] Yes[12]
Gratiosus Unknown Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury 638[13] No
Honorius of Canterbury[14] Either 597 or 601 Archbishop of Canterbury 653[14] Yes[15]
James the Deacon[6] Unknown Deacon[6] After 671[6] Yes[8]
John Either 597 or 601 Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury Unknown No
Justus[16] 601 Archbishop of Canterbury 627[16] Yes[17]
Laurence of Canterbury[18] 597 Archbishop of Canterbury 619[18] Yes[19]
Mellitus[20] 601 Archbishop of Canterbury 624[20] Yes[21]
Paulinus of York[22] 601 Bishop of York
Bishop of Rochester
644[22] Yes[9]
Peter of Canterbury 597 Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury circa 607[23] or after 614[24] Yes[10]
Petronius Unknown Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury circa 654[13] No
Romanus Either 597 or 601 Bishop of Rochester circa 624[25] No
Rufinianus 601 Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury Before 638[13] No

Citations[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ a b c d Brooks "Gregorian mission (act. 596–601)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b Yorke Conversion of Britain pp. 122–123
  3. ^ Mayr-Harting Coming of Christianity p. 62
  4. ^ Mayr-Harting Coming of Christianity pp. 65–66
  5. ^ Mayr-Harting Coming of Christianity p. 68
  6. ^ a b c d Lapidge "James the Deacon" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  7. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints pp. 73, 268, 348, 357, and 420
  8. ^ a b "Parish Church of St James the Deacon". Parish Church of St James the Deacon.  Accessed 12 March 2009
  9. ^ a b Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 475
  10. ^ a b Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 482
  11. ^ a b Lapidge "Augustine" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  12. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 73
  13. ^ a b c Hunt "Petronius (d. 654?)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  14. ^ a b Lapidge "Honorius" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  15. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 268
  16. ^ a b Haywood "Justus" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  17. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 348
  18. ^ a b Lapidge "Laurentius" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  19. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 357
  20. ^ a b Lapidge "Mellitus" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  21. ^ Walsh Dictionary of Saints p. 420
  22. ^ a b Lapidge "Paulinus" Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
  23. ^ Hunt "Petrus (St Petrus) (d. 605x11)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  24. ^ Wood "Mission of Augustine" Speculum p. 7
  25. ^ Beazley "Romanus (d. in or before 627)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

References[edit]

  • Beazley, C. R. (2004). "Romanus (d. in or before 627)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. revised by Marios Costambeys (October 2005 Revised ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  • Brooks, N. P. (2008). "Gregorian mission (act. 596–601)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (October 2008 revised ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  • Haywood, Paul Anthony (2001). "Justus". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 267–268. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Hunt, William (2004). "Petronius (d. 654?)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. revised by Marios Costambeys. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  • Hunt, William (2004). "Petrus (St Petrus) (d. 605x11)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. revised by Marios Costambeys (October 2005 Revised ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "Augustine". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "Honorius". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "James the Deacon". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "Laurentius". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "Mellitus". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 306–306. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). "Paulinus". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  • Mayr-Harting, Henry (1991). The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-00769-9. 
  • Walsh, Michael J. (2007). A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West. London: Burns & Oats. ISBN 0-86012-438-X. 
  • Wood, Ian (January 1994). "The Mission of Augustine of Canterbury to the English". Speculum (fee required) 69 (1): 1–17. doi:10.2307/2864782. JSTOR 2864782. 
  • Yorke, Barbara (2006). The Conversion of Britain: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain c. 600–800. London: Pearson/Longman. ISBN 0-582-77292-3.