The Coming of Christianity in Britain

Coming of Christianity in Britain 

> it was the Romans who brought Christianity to Britain.

> by the end of the third century Christianity had been accepted  by almost all Britain.

> Christianity was brought in by the Romans.

> Britain had her on saints as well as martyrs, like Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Julius of Caerleon.

> Many churches had been established all over Britain .

> Unfortunately it couldn't survive because of the invasion  of the germanic tribes 

> The Roman Britons , they fled to the inaccessible north and West 

> These were the places of their predecessors the Celts.

> Along with their language and literature they also brought their religion ie . Christianity to the North and West.

> The old Druid spirits was now replaced by a firm belief in Jesus Christ 

> The Celtic  Christians  flourished  mainly in Ireland as an independent body separated  from the power of Rome .

> These independent Christians of Ireland had their own saints of whom  the most important was Saint Patrick 

St Patrick

> A Roman Briton by birth

> Was captured by pirates

> Was sold to Ireland slave owners

> Remained a slave for six years

> Escaped to Gaul

> Entered a Christian monastery

> Became a monk and later a priest

> Returned to England to bring the gospel to Ireland

> Established Monastery of Armagh in Ireland

> Encouraged Irish people to learn Latin and literature

> Preserved Rome's heritage.

> After his death people of Ireland returned to their way.

St Columba

> An Irish saint who visited England as part of their mission to spread Christianity all over Europe.

> Established Monastery in the island of Iona, West coast of Scotland in 550 AD.

> Tried hard to attract the savage Picts to Christianity.

St Aidan

> Another saint of Monastery of Iona
> Headquarters was at Lindisfarne.
> People of the monastery led a simple life.
> This attracted the local population to Christianity.

The Decline of Holy Roman Empire

> Holy Roman Empire began to decline by 6 th century.
> The very foundation of Christianity was shaken
> A spiritual decay occurred
> Christian Churches all over Europe were scattered.

St Benedict and the Monastic Revival

> It was at this time, Europe witnessed a monastic Revival.
> Was initiated by St Benedict.
> Formulated a set of rules and principles which had been the basis of monastic life.
> He argued that a priest should also indulge in manual work, study ( learning) and prayer , apart from taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
> Ora et labora( work and pray) was his dictum.

Pope Gregory the Great

> Born in 540 AD
> Member of a noble Roman family.
> He transformed his house into  his monastery
> He was a follower of St Benedict
> He promised Angle slaves , who were put up for sale in the slave market of Rome, he would convert them to Christianity.
> Later he became the Pope
> Founder of the powerful Papacy of the Middle Ages.
> Encouraged by Bertha, the wife of King Ethelbert of Kent, Under the leadership of St Augustine, he sent a mission to the Angle land( Britain) to spread the Gospel.
> The missionaries were given a warm welcome.
> Thus the official Christianization of England occurred.
> It was made possible by St Augustine and his 40 monks , in the year 597 AD.
> These monks re-established the ruined church of St Martin which was destroyed by the Saxons.
> The life and practices of St Augustine did influenced the people as well as their king
> Soon the whole of Kent became Christian.
> The Pope consecrated St Augustine as the first archbishop of Canterbury ( representative of the Pope in England).
> Canterbury thus became the seat of England's Spiritual power.

However Kent declined with the death of Ethelbert.

> With the death of Ethelbert, Northumbria rose to power.

> Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert was married to king Edwin of Northumbria.

> Since she was a Christian, she brought Paulinus, a Roman monk with her to Northumbria.

> The ways of Paulinus was so appealing that, the King and his courtiers accepted the faith.

> Christianity flourished in England for the next 8 years.

> But it disappeared with the death of King Edwin, at the hands of Penda, Mercia King.

> But it appeared once again with the rise of King Oswald as the King of Northumbria.

> The spread of Christianity was carried on by Bishop Aidan .

> But Penda once again attacked Northumbria and killed Oswald 

> But this time Penda was killed by Oswy, brother of Oswald.

> Thus Christianity was saved .

> Christian faith was carried to different parts of England.

> Simple life of the monks attracted many.

> King Oswy, summoned the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD.

> England became the faithful servant of the See of Rome.

> England continued to be so until the reign of King Henry VIII 

Theodore of Tarsus

> In 668 AD, Theodore of Tarsus, to organise the United Church of England.
> An old man of sixty
> He laid the foundations of the Roman system of church governance which is still followed today.
> He was the Archbishop of Canterbury for 20 years.
> G M Trevelyan in his book, The Social History of England, says that under Theodore of Tarsus, the Church was united.
> It became a single body under the supreme guidance and control of Pope.
> He started religious seminars for christian youth inorder to prosper Christian faith.
> The customs like sinners should do penance, was introduced by him.
> Ultimately he was responsible for the orderly and regular organization of the Christian Church into dioceses and parishes.
> G M Trevelyan calls him, the first remarkable man among the successors of Augustine.


> Rural England witnessed a change.

> English Church paved the way for social system known as feudalism.

> Or it gave rise to feudalism.

> Peace was restored.

> But strife and murder still continued in Saxon society.

> But gradually the virtues of Christianity changed them a lot.

> The orderly , abstinent life of the monks who practiced the virtues of forgiveness and sacrifice were a source of inspiration for the people.

> Thus the Anglo Saxons of England were cultured, refined and renewed by the gentle touch of Christianity.


> Fostered the growth of art and literature.

> Monasteries became centres of learning

> Art and literature of the people were preserved within libraries of the monastery

> Scholars like Venerable Bede, flourished.

Political union

> It also enabled political union.

> As they were united by a single faith ie Christianity, under a single king, they came to know be  as people of England- the English- living in one country-England-under one king- Athelstan.

> So when Athelstan was crowned the King of United England by Archbishop of Canterbury, the ceremony was gladly accepted by the people.

> This continues to be a practice even today. Ie. King or Queen is crowned by Archbishop of Canterbury.