Year 1: Growing Plants

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					  Stories from the Past:
From Pagans to Christianity
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  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.

				
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