Solange De Santis: A sense of perspective

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much of today's building is relatively "modern," about 600 years old, but its history began in 597 A.D. when St. Augustine at the behest of Pope Gregory the Great arrived with 40 monks, built a church and nurtured Christianity on the soil of Britain.

Canterbury became a significant stop on the pilgrim route to Rome, and in 1170 an event occurred that transformed it into a shrine. Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by four knights acting, they thought, on the desires of King Henry II. Four years later, Henry himself, wearing sackcloth, was at the altar being beaten by monks as penance for the deed.

When the current archbishop (the 104th) led retreat and worship, he wasn't far from the spot where one of his predecessors embodied a clash between spiritual and temporal power.

The conflicts roiling today's Anglican Communion were present at the conference, but the most valuable contribution Canterbury and the cathedral brought was a sense of perspective. The disagreements are just as real and just as serious as they were 500 or 1000 years ago, but the church as the body of Christ survives and the physical places of Canterbury transmit an awareness that we who are alive today continue to tell the great story of humanity's encounter with the divine. For Anglicans, for Episcopalians, it's not a bad heritage to share.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryLambeth 2008

Posted August 29, 2008 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

“Much of today’s building is relatively “modern,” about 600 years old, but its history began in 597 A.D. when St. Augustine at the behest of Pope Gregory the Great arrived with 40 monks, built a church and nurtured Christianity on the soil of Britain.”

Isn’t this an incorrect statement? 

Wasn’t there a building built by Christians at Canterbury prior to the arrival of the ‘latter Augustine?’

Wasn’t there a Christian church in Britain prior to mthe arrival of Augistine?

Wasn’t the purpose of Augustine’s mission to Britain to ‘claim’ that portion of Christians in Britain for the Pope?

August 29, 8:07 am | [comment link]
2. Philip Snyder wrote:

Actually, Gregory the Great sent Augustine to Britian, knowing there was some form of a church there, but not what shape it was in.  According to my Anglican History teacher, Augustine arrived with the mandate to set up two arch-dioceses - Canterbury and York and to make them equal.  He was also told to keep whatever was good about the native church and reform what needed to be reformed. 

About 2 years ago, my family vacationed in London and visited Canterbury for one day.  It was wonderful to be in the same place where Anslem walked and where Becket prayed and died.  To walk the stairs well worn by the feet and knees of countless pilgrims was amazing.  To pray that the shrine of the Swords’ Point and to see the Archepiscopal Throne and the Chair of Augustine was great. 

Phil Snyder

August 29, 9:55 am | [comment link]
3. rob k wrote:

No. 1 - Here is my understanding - Northern England, Scotland, and Ireland had be Christian for a few hundred(?) years before Augustine’s mission to Southern England, which was at that time still pagan, under the rule of the several Saxon kingdoms.  One of those kingdoms was the Kingdom of Kent, ruled by Ethelred.  Ethelred’s wife was from the continent, and she was already a Christian, and she evidently had a hand in facilitating the papal mission to this part of Southern England.  It would be some 60 years later when, at the Synod of Whitby, in Northern England, the Church of the Roman mission in southern England and the Celtic Church of the north would agree to merge operations.  Would welcome any corrections or additional items of interest to my post.  There is a dramatic mural in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco showing Augustine (later first Archbishop of Cahterbury) preaching to a not yet convinced, by the expression on his face, Ethelred, with his wife standing in the background.

August 30, 6:08 am | [comment link]
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