From the Ecclesiastical History by St. Bede the Venerable
Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Apostle of the English, was sent into England by blessed Gregory, and came thither in the year 597. At that time King Ethelbert held the chief power in Kent, and his sway reached even to the Humber. When this King had heard for what reason the holy man was come, he received him kindly, and bade him and his companions, who were all monks, to come to his own capital city of Canterbury ; being struck with astonishment the perfect blamelessness of their lives, and the power of the heavenly doctrine which they preached, and which God confirmed with signs following.
They drew nigh to the city in solemn procession, singing the Litany, and bearing before them for their standard a silver cross and a picture of the Lord our Saviour painted on a panel. Hard by the city, upon the east side, there was a church builded of old time in honour of Saint Martin, and wherein the Queen, who was a Christian, was used to pray. There they first began to meet together, to sing, to pray, to celebrate Masses, to preach and to baptize, until the King was turned to the Faith, and the most part of his people was led by his example, but not his authority, to take the name of Christian ; for he had learned from his teachers and his own soul’s physicians, that men are to be drawn, and not driven to heaven. And now, Augustine, being ordained Archbishop of the English and of Britain, lest he should leave unraveled any part of the Lord’s vineyard, asked from the Apostolic See a new band of labourers, among whom were Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus, and Rufinian.
By them Gregory sent hallowed vessels, altar-cloths, church vestments, and also relicks of the holy Apostles and Martyrs. He instructed them to turn the temples of the idols into places of Christian worship, by sprinkling them with hallowed water, building altars in them, and putting relicks therein. The Britons who, nearly an hundred and fifty years before, had been thrust into the uttermost part of the island, had some bishops, whom Augustine vehemently urged to lay aside their error concerning the keeping of Easter, and to labour along with him for the conversion of the English, but they left it all to him. He toiled much for the saving of souls. He was illustrious for his life. He made Mellitus Bishop of London and Justus Bishop of Rochester, and named Lawrence to succeed himself at Canterbury, and then finished his work in peace, and passed away to that life which is perfect blessedness, upon May 26th, in the year of our Lord 604, in the reign of Ethelbert.
Collect:O God, who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine thy Confessor and Bishop, hast caused the light of the true Faith to shine forth among the peoples of England: grant that by his intercession the hearts of them that are gone astray may return to the unity of thy truth ; and that we may dwell together in peace according to thy will, through Jesus