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and St. Paul—that is to say, the key had some particles of the chains incorporated into it.
Vitalian made diligent inquiry for some one to send to be Archbishop of the English churches, and did not find one without some trouble. The first man whom he fixed upon was Hadrian, Abbot of the Niridian Monastery, not far from Naples, an African by nation, well versed in Holy Scripture, experienced in ecclesiastical and monastic discipline, and excellently skilled both in the Greek and Latin tongues. Vitalian sent for him, and bade him accept the episcopate and go to Britain. Hadrian, however, excused himself, as being unworthy of so great a dignity, and suggested another, whose age and learning were fitter for the episcopal office, from which we infer that Hadrian was comparatively a young man. The substitute whom he named was a monk named Andrew, belonging to a neighbouring monastery of virgins. He was judged worthy of a bishopric by all who knew him, but bodily infirmity made him unequal to the hardships of the journey to Britain and the labours of the work there. Then Vitalian fell back upon Hadrian, who again asked time to find a substitute.
There was at that time in Rome a monk called Theodore, a native of St. Paul's birthplace, Tarsus in Cilicia. He had lately come to Rome in the train of the Emperor Constans II., whose orthodoxy was very doubtful, and his tyranny beyond all doubt. Theodore was a man of learning in both secular and divine literature, and in both the Greek and Latin languages; of known probity of life, and venerable for his age, for he was sixty-six years old. Hadrian knew him well, and proposed him to Vitalian for the English
bishopric. But Vitalian hesitated. Greek ecclesiastics were not in favour at Rome; and one who had been in the train of the Emperor was specially open to suspicion.
Hadrian answered for him, and Vitalian finally agreed to accept him, on condition that Hadrian would accompany him with some of his monks, and take care that he did not, “according to the custom of the Greeks," introduce into the Church over which he presided anything contrary to the true faith.
Theodore turned out to be a man of great energy, sound judgment, and firm will. He united the English churches into a province, over which he ruled as Metropolitan (in all) for one and twenty years.
With Theodore begins a new era in the history of the Church of England, and the history of the Italian mission reaches its conclusion.
Such is the STORY OF AUGUSTINE AND THE ITALIAN Mission. When we look back upon it, and try to grasp it as a whole, and to estimate the men and their work, we are driven to some judgments which we shrink from pronouncing. Gregory's enterprise was a noble one, undertaken in the sincerest spirit of zeal for the cause of Christ, and of philanthropic interest in the welfare of an interesting people. It was planned on a grand scale, for Gregory sent the flower of his own cherished convent, at his own cost, on this crusade, and the result of the work was fairly satisfactory for a time, and that time is very clearly defined. The events which followed immediately upon Ethelbert's death reveal, beyond the possibility of mistake, that much of the previous success had been due to the influence of Ethelbert, rather than to the initiative of Augustine. It was Ethelbert's diplomacy which obtained the interview between Augustine and the British bishops; the British bishops were not indisposed to welcome a renewal of relations with the Church of Western Christendom, and even to accept Augustine as the link of the new relation; and it was Augustine's fault that the hopeful negotiation failed. It was Ethelbert's political influence which secured the establishment of new centres at Rochester and London ; but, on the cessation of that political support, the Bishops of Rochester and London had not obtained sufficient influence to secure even the toleration of their own presence.
Even in Kent, the death of Ethelbert was followed by a reaction against Christianity so formidable, that Laurentius contemplated the abandonment of his post.
The impression left on the mind by a consideration of his share in the history is, that Augustine was a pious, good man, possessed with a strong feeling of affectionate and reverent loyalty to his illustrious Abbot and Bishop; and that Gregory had found in him a prior on whom he could entirely rely to maintain the daily routine and discipline of the convent, and to carry out his own directions; but we are driven to the conclusion that the capable and trustworthy lieutenant did not possess the self-reliance, force of character, constructive power, and influence over other men, which make a great leader.
Every man is not a born genius—not to go beyond the scope of the present history-like Gregory or like Theodore; all that the rest of us can do is to give our best to God, as Augustine seems to have
done. He had weaknesses and made mistakes—who is free from them? After all, he was the first to preach the gospel to the English; and the results of his work have lived to this day, and will live; and his name will be held in deserved honour so long as the history of the English race shall last.
After the death of Ethelbert, there is no indication of any further attempt to extend the gospel into the other English kingdoms—the mission of Paulinus to Northumbria in the suite of Ethelburga was hardly an exception. All the later bishops seem to have abandoned the hope of carrying out Gregory's great plans for the evangelisation and the ecclesiastical organisation of the English, and to have resigned themselves to the position of Bishops of Kent.
When we consider the relations between Rome and the English mission, we seem to see that Augustine and his successors of the Italian line regarded their Church as holding a position of special dependence upon Rome; they kept up an occasional correspondence with Rome, and sought the advice and sanction of its Bishop at special crises. On the other hand, after the death of Gregory, the mission was not very earnestly backed up from Rome. Its Bishops accepted the deference paid to them; they did what was asked of them, which was usually to give their sanction to some foregone conclusion about the succession or consecration of the English bishops; and they took these opportunities to send complimentary letters to princes and bishops. But they left the mission entirely to its own resources with the solitary exception that, when Birinus was seeking a sphere of missionary work, Honorius recommended
him to go to Britain, and preach in some part of it yet untouched.
In fine, the work of the Italian mission survived in Kent only; we may include Ithamar, Damian, and Deusdedit as belonging to it. With the death of Deusdedit, the Italian succession comes to an end. The consecration of Theodore, with the consent of all the princes and churches of the Heptarchy, is the beginning of a new era. He united all the Heptarchic Churches into one ecclesiastical province, with Canterbury for its Metropolis; he was the first Archbishop of Canterbury, for Bede is witness that he was “the first Archbishop whom all the English Church obeyed.” 1
Bede, Eccl. Hist. iv. 2.