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CHAP. XXIV.-HOW HE WROTE TO THE BISHOP OF ARLES
TO ENTERTAIN THEM.
The same venerable pope also sent a letter to Æthe- His letter to rius, bishop of Arles, exhorting him to give favourable A.D.596. entertainment to Augustine on his way to Britain; which letter was in these words :
“ To his most reverend and holy brother and fellowbishop Ætherius, Gregory, the servant of the servants of God. Although religious men stand in need of no recommendation with priests who have the charity which is pleasing to God; yet, as a proper opportunity is offered to write, we have thought fit to send you this our letter, to inform you, that we have directed thither, for the good of souls, the bearer of these presents, Augustine, the servant of God, of whose industry we are assured, with other servants of God, whom it is requisite that your holiness assist with priestly affection, and afford him all the comfort in your power. And to the end that you may be the more ready in your assistance, we have enjoined him particularly to inform you of the occasion of his coming; knowing, that when you are acquainted with it, you will, as the matter requires, for the sake of God, zealously afford him your relief. We also in all things recommend to your charity, Candidus, the priest, our common son, whom we have transferred to the government of a small patrimony in our church. God keep you in safety, most reverend brother. Dated the 23rd day of July, in the fourteenth year of the reign of our most pious and august lord, Mauritius Tiberius, the thirteenth year after the consulship of our lord aforesaid. The fourteenth indiction.”
CAP. XXV.--UT VENIENS BRITANNIAM AUGUSTINUS PRIMO
IN INSULA TANETO REGI CANTUARIORUM PRÆDICARET ; ET SIC, ACCEPTA AB EO LICENTIA, CANTIAM PRÆDICATURUS INTRAVERIT.
ROBORATUS ergo confirmatione beati patris Gregorii Augustinus, cum famulis Christi qui erant cum eo, rediit in opus verbi, pervenitque Britanniam. Erat eo tempore rex Ethelbertus in Cantia potentissimus, qui ad confinium usque Humbræ fluminis maximi, quo meridiani et septentrionales Anglorum populi dirimuntur, fines imperii tetenderat. Est autem ad orientalem Cantiæ plagam Tanetos insula non modica, id est, magnitudinis, juxta consuetudinem æstimationis Anglorum, familiarum sexcentarum, quam a continenti terra secernit fluvius Vantsumu, qui est latitudinis circiter trium stadiorum et duobus tantum in locis est transmeabilis, utrumque enim caput protendit in mare. In hac ergo applicuit servus Domini Augustinus et socii ejus, viri, ut ferunt, ferme quadraginta. Acceperunt autem, præcipiente beato Papa Gregorio, de gente Francorum interpretes, et mittens ad Ethelbertum mandavit se venisse de Roma ac nuncium ferre optimum, qui sibi obtemperantibus æterna in cælis gaudia et regnum sine fine cum Deo vivo et vero futurum sine ulla dubietate promitteret ; qui, hæc audiens, manere illos in ea quam adierant insula, et eis necessaria ministrari, donec videret quid eis faceret, jussit. Nam et antea fama ad eum Christianæ religionis pervenerat, utpote qui et uxorem habebat Christianam de gente Francorum regia, vocabulo Bertham; quam ea conditione a parentibus acceperat, ut ritum fidei ac religionis suæ cum episcopo, quem ei adjutorem fidei dederant, nomine Luidhardo, inviolatum servare licentiam haberet.
Post dies ergo venit ad insulam rex, et residens sub CHAP. XXV.- AUGUSTINE, COMING INTO BRITAIN, FIRST
PREACHED IN THE ISLE OF THANET TO KING ETHELBERT,
AUGUSTINE, being strengthened by the confirmation of Augustine the blessed Father Gregory, returned to the work of Britain. the word of God, with the servants of Christ, and arrived in Britain. The powerful Ethelbert was at that time king of Kent; he had extended his dominions as far as the great river Humber, by which the Southern Saxons are divided from the Northern. On the east of Kent is the large Isle of Thanet, containing, according to the English way of reckoning, 600 families, divided from the other land by the river Wantsum, which is about three furlongs over, and fordable only in two places, for both ends of it run into the sea. In this island landed the servant of our Lord, Augustine, and his companions, being, as is reported, nearly forty men. They had, by order of the blessed Pope Gregory, taken interpreters of the nation of the Franks, and sending to Ethelbert, signified that they were come from Rome, and brought a joyful message, which most undoubtedly assured to all that took advantage of it everlasting joys in heaven, and a kingdom that would never end, with the living and true God. The king, having heard this, ordered them to stay in that island where they had landed, and that they should be furnished with all necessaries, till he should consider what to do with them. For he had before heard of the Christian religion, having a Christian wife of the royal family of the Franks, called Bertha; whom he had received from her parents, upon condition that she should be permitted to practise her religion with the Bishop Luidhard, who was sent with her to preserve her faith. Some days after, the king came into the island, and sitting in the
divo jussit Augustinum cum sociis ad suum ibidem advenire colloquium ; caverat enim ne in aliquam domum ad se introirent, vetere usus augurio, ne superventu suo, si quid maleficæ artis habuissent, eum superando deciperent. At illi non dæmonica, sed divina virtute præditi veniebant, crucem pro vexillo ferentes argenteam, et imaginem Domini Salvatoris in tabula depictam; litaniasque canentes pro sua simul et eorum, propter quos et ad quos venerant, salute æterna, Domino supplicabant. Cumque ad jussionem regis residentes Verbum ei vitæ una cum omnibus, qui aderant, ejus comitibus prædicarent, respondit ille dicens, “Pulcra sunt quidem verba et promissa quæ affertis ; sed quia nova sunt et incerta, non his possum assensum tribuere, relictis eis, quæ tanto tempore cum omni Anglorum gente servavi. Verum, quia de longe huc peregrini venistis, et ut ego mihi videor perspexisse, ea quæ vos vera et optima credebatis nobis quoque communicare desiderastis, nolumus molesti esse vobis; quin potius benigno vos hospitio recipere, et quæ victui sunt vestro necessaria ministrare curamus, nec prohibemus quin omnes quos potestis fidei vestræ religionis prædicando societis.” Dedit ergo eis mansionem in civitate Dorovernensi, quæ imperii sui totius erat metropolis, eisque, ut promiserat, cum administratione victus temporalis licentiam quoque prædicandi non abstulit. Fertur autem, quia appropinquantes civitati, more suo, cum cruce sancta et imagine magni regis, Domini nostri Jesu Christi, hanc litaniam consona voce modularentur. “ Deprecamur te, Domine, in omni misericordia tua, ut auferatur furor tuus et ira tua a civitate ista et de domo sancta tua, quoniam peccavimus. Alleluia.”
open air, ordered Augustine and his companions to be a.v. 597.
í lugu. because you are come from far into my kingdom, and, Fafone as I conceive, are desirous to impart to us those things which you believe to be true, and most beneficial, we will not molest you, but give you favourable entertainment, and take care to supply you with your necessary sustenance; nor do we forbid you to preach and gain as many as you can to your religion.” Accordingly he permitted them to reside in the city of Canterbury, which was the metropolis of all his dominions, and, pursuant to his promise, besides allowing them sustenance, did not refuse them liberty to preach. It is reported that, as they drew near to the city, after their manner, with the holy cross, and the image of our sovereign Lord and King, Jesus Christ, they, in concert, sung this litany: “We beseech thee, O Lord, in all thy mercy, that thy anger and wrath be turned away from this city, and from thy holy house, because we have sinned. Hallelujah.”