Thursday, November 24, 2011


Peter of Canterbury Jan 6
+ c 607. A monk from St Andrew's in Rome, he was one of the first missionaries sent to England. He became first Abbot of Sts Peter and Paul (later St Augustine's), founded in Canterbury. While travelling to France he was drowned off Ambleteuse near Boulogne, where his relics are still honoured.

Peter of Canterbury or Petrus(died c. 607 AD or after 614) was a Benedictine abbot and companion of Augustine in the Gregorian mission to England. He became the first abbot of what would become St Augustine's Abbey. Augustine sent Peter as an emissary to Rome around 600 to convey news of the mission to Pope Gregory I. Peter's death has traditionally been dated to around 607, but evidence suggests that he was present at a church council in Paris in 614, so he probably died after that date.

It is presumed that Peter was a native of Italy, like the other members of the Gregorian mission.This mission was dispatched by Pope Gregory the Great in 596 to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism. It landed in Kent in 597, and soon converted King Æthelberht of Kent, who gave Augustine the land on which he founded the abbey that later became St Augustine's, Canterbury.The medieval chronicler Bede records that sometime after the mission's arrival in England,probably in late 600,Peter, along with fellow-missionary Laurence, was sent back to Gregory. This deputation was to relay the news of Augustine's successes in Kent, and to request more missionaries.They also conveyed to the pope a number of inquiries from Augustine about how to proceed with the mission, and when they returned in 601, they brought back Gregory's replies to Augustine.Peter became the abbot of the monastery that Æthelberht founded in Canterbury, originally dedicated to the saints Peter and Paul, but later rededicated as St Augustine's, after the leader of the mission.Bede describes Peter as both abbot and presbyter, a word usually translated as priest.

Death and veneration

Peter drowned while crossing the English Channel on the way to Gaul,at a place called Ambleteuse, near BoulogneAt first he was buried hastily nearby, but Bede reports that after a light illuminated the grave every night, the locals realised Peter was a saint and exhumed him and re-interred him in Boulogne. The actual date of death is unknown, and since his feast day was celebrated on two different days, 30 December or 6 January, that information does not clear up the mystery. The date of his death is reported to have been 1 year, 7 months and 3 weeks after Augustine's, by Thomas of Elmham, a 15th century chronicler. If this is true, this would give a year of death between 605 and 611.his information, however, is contradicted by the fact that Peter was present at the Council of Paris in 614, convened by Chlothar II.It is possible that he died during his return from the Council of Paris.

Peter is a considered a saint, with a feast day on 6 January. His cult was confirmed in 1915.A Vita Petri, or Life of Peter, written by Eadmer in the 12th century, exists in manuscript form, but it is unreliable.There is evidence that Peter was the object of veneration in Boulogne in the 15th century, and a church in that town was associated with Peter, although probably not from the start of his cult.

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