Stories from the Past: From Pagans to Christianity Previous Slide Next Slide Back to Contents (this slide) In the late 6th Century the Did You ruler of Kent was called King Know? Ethelbert. He was married Unlike today, in Anglo-Saxon to Bertha. Although times Britain Ethelbert was a Pagan, he was made up of allowed his wife to have many kingdoms. freedom of worship. At the time of Ethelbert’s Bertha came from a reign, Kent was Christian family in Europe. rich, with strong She wanted the Anglo trade ties to the Saxons to become Christians continent. too, and move away from Paganism. One day she persuaded her husband to write to the Pope in Rome, asking him to send some Christian missionaries. Upon receiving this letter, Pope Gregory called upon one of his most Did You trusted men. That man was Augustine. He Know? not only preached how to live a life in The Pope is the God’s eyes, but was also very persuasive most powerful in converting people to Christianity. man in the On this day, Christian world. sometime in 597AD, Today he lives in the Vatican in Pope Gregory Rome. showed Augustine the letter. “Augustine. I have a very special role for you,” he said as he unwrapped a scroll showing a map of Britain. “The Roman Empire used to control Britain, but now it is free of Roman influence.” Augustine nodded his head. He was aware of a lot of Roman history. “The Anglo Saxons are Pagans. They think the world is controlled by superhuman people.” Pope Gregory lowered his voice. “Augustine, I want you to travel to Britain. I want you to spread the word of Christianity across southern Britain. Make the people believe in peace and everlasting life. Change their thinking so they no longer believe that dying in battle is glorious.” Augustine nodded again. “I will try my best,” he said. Augustine wasn’t alone. He crossed Europe with his friend, Laurence, and forty other monks until he reached northern France. With the help of some local boat owners, he crossed the Channel and soon arrived on the coast of Kent, in South Eastern Britain. Augustine thanked God for making his journey safe. King Ethelbert greeted the missionaries. “I hope you had a good journey,” he said as he made them feel welcome. Over dinner, Augustine asked the King if he could have a small town to preach in. “I want to try to spread the word of God. I want to see how your people react.” Knowing it would please his wife, Ethelbert agreed. He thought preaching would be harmless. “I will take you to a small town Did You inland,” said Ethelbert. “It is called Know? Canterbury. You can settle and preach Today Canterbury is one there.” of many British Augustine and Laurence had a lot of cathedral cities. success preaching there. So much so, that Along with York, it is the most Augustine called himself the first important Archbishop of religious city in the UK. Canterbury. Augustine founded a monastery, and that Christmas he managed to baptize 10,000 people. After success at Canterbury, Augustine continued his mission. He visited other Anglo-Saxon towns and kingdoms. He visited London, and met with King Saebert of Essex. Augustine tried to persuade Saebert to follow Christianity but, unlike Ethelbert, he wasn’t as easily persuaded. “Are you asking my people to give up their Pagan beliefs?” asked Saebert. “We have gods that we believe in, and festivals we celebrate.” “Follow the life of one true God, and all your lives will be enhanced,” explained Augustine. “The paradise of heaven awaits the true Christians of this world.” Saebert thought for a moment. “But Did You what about our pagan temples?” Know? “Not a problem,” replied Augustine. “You Christian churches could not be built can convert them to Christian temples.” straight away. Saebert wasn’t sure Instead they built what to do. He spoke to bright stone crosses where the Pagan his advisors to find out temples had stood. what his people thought. Over time, wooden To his surprise, many of churches were built next to the cross. his people had already heard of Christianity, and appreciated the values of the religion. After a few days, he met Augustine once again. “My people have spoken,” said Saebert. “It seems you are a persuasive man. Christianity is spreading strongly, but not entirely here.” Augustine looked puzzled. “Are you turning your back on God?” he asked. “Not entirely. You can send some of your bishops to preach here. You can convert one of the temples, but I want paganism to stay as well. I am sure the two religions can live side by side. Let the people choose their faith.” Saebert was right. Over the next few Did You years, both Paganism and Christian beliefs Know? existed side by side, not just in his This beautifully kingdom, but in many others across Britain. carved Anglo- Augustine didn’t give up. He continued Saxon box is made out of whalebone. his journey with his men. The carvings show He managed to persuade that Christian and pagan beliefs a lot of people to become existed side by Christians, but not all. side. Augustine realised that persuading everyone to change faith would take far longer than his lifetime. He reported back to Pope Gregory. Pope Gregory accepted what Augustine said, and thanked him for his work. He wanted Augustine to return to Canterbury, and continue his work as the first Archbishop. Over time, Pope Gregory and Augustine passed away. But their work was not forgotten. The new Archbishop of Canterbury was Laurence, and he continued to persuade parts of Britain to embrace Christianity. Over hundreds of years, Britain did fully convert to Christianity. Pagan temples became churches, and Pagan traditions became Christian festivals. Rome recognised the early work Augustine had done, and made him a saint. History now shows St. Augustine as the first Christian missionary in Britain.
Pages to are hidden for
"Year 1: Growing Plants"Please download to view full document