In the middle 400's the pagan Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain, driving the Christian Britons north and west into Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. In 597 a band of monks headed by Augustine of Canterbury (feast 26 May--not to be confused with Augustine of Hippo) arrived in southeastern England, in the kingdom of Kent, and began to evangelize the people there, with considerable success. In 601 a second group of monks arrived, including Paulinus (born around 584).
Sometime after 616, Edwin, the pagan king of Northumbria (the region north of the Humber river--roughly the northern quarter of England), asked for the hand in marriage of Ethelburga, the sister of the king of Kent. He was told that a Christian princess could not marry a pagan, but he promised that she would be free to practice her religion, and that he would listen to Christian preachers, and seriously consider becoming a Christian himself. At this Ethelburga agreed to marry him, and went north in 625, taking with her as chaplain the monk Paulinus, who was consecrated bishop for the purpose.
Edwin heard the preaching of Paulinus for many months, and finally consulted his advisors. Coifi, the high priest of the pagan religion, advised adopting Christianity, since he said that the pagan religion had not proved satisfactory. Another nobleman agreed, saying: "Life is like a banquet hall. Inside is light and fire and warmth and feasting, but outside it is cold and dark. A sparrow flies in through a window at one end, flies the length of the hall, and out through a window at the other end. That is what life is like. At birth we emerge from the unknown, and for a brief while we are here on this earth, with a fair amount of comfort and happiness. But then we fly out the window at the other end, into the cold and dark and unknown future. If the new religion can lighten that darkness for us, then let us follow it."
The other elders and counselors of the king gave similar advice, and so in 627 the king and many of his chief men were baptized. Other conversions followed, and the Church in Northumbria flourished. However, six years later, King Edwin was defeated and killed by Cadwallon of Wales and Penda of Mercia at the battle of Hatfield Chase. Paulinus left his deacon James in charge of what remained of the Church there, and took Queen Ethelburga and her children back to Kent by ship. There the elderly Paulinus was given the bishopric of Rochester, which he held till his death on 10 October 644.
Propers for Paulinus of York - Missionary and Bishop
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Paulinus, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of England: Raise up, we pray thee, in this and every land, heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, and may increase with the increase of God; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Acts 1:1-9.
THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things. while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9.
AFTER these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor pack, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
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