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Laurence of Canterbury

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Our father among the saints Laurence of Canterbury (also Lawrence) was the second Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding St. Augustine of Canterbury in 604. His feast day is celebrated on February 2 or 3.

Life

Born Laurentius, nothing is known of the childhood of St. Laurence. His date of birth is not known. According to St. Bede, Laurence was among the first missionaries to the Anglo-Saxons. He arrived in a party of missionaries with St. Augustine of Canterbury in 597, on the island of Thanet. Among their early conversions to Christianity was King Ethelbert of Kent. After Augustine was consecrated bishop in Arles, Laurence was sent by Augustine to report to Pope Gregory the Great of their successes.

In 601, Laurence returned with Mellitus, who became Bishop of London, and others with a pallium for Augustine and a collection of religious objects. Augustine probably consecrated Laurence bishop a short time before he died, about 604, after which Laurence succeeded to the See of Canterbury. King Ethelbert died in 616 and was succeeded by his son Eadbald, who began a return of the populace to the heathen faith. This prompted many of the missionaries to flee to Gaul. Tradition relates that about 617-618 Laurence was among those who were giving up, but was visited by St. Peter in a vision. Peter berated Laurence and whipped him. The next day Laurence visited Eadbald and showed him the marks from the whipping, thus effecting Eadbald's conversion to Christianity.

Laurence died on February 3, 619, and was buried with St. Augustine in St. Peter's Church, which was later dedicated as the St. Augustine Abbey Church.

Preceded by:
St. Augustine
Archbishop of Canterbury
604-619
Succeeded by:
Mellitus

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