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People: St Augustine
Who was St Augustine?
St Augustine arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 595 AD. He had been sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great. Tradition says that Gregory had been struck by the beauty of some English slaves he saw for sale in the city market and so decided to send Augustine and some monks to convert the English to Christianity.
Queen Bertha, wife of the local king Ethelred, was already a Christian. She gave Augustine a church in Canterbury. Later, with the backing of Pope Gregory, Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury where he established the Cathedral building and community.
As a result of Augustine, many English converted to Christianity. Several years later a school was founded to train priests and missionaries. Augustine died around 604 AD and was revered as a saint fairly soon afterward.
He was the founder of the English church and people refer to him as the 'Apostle to the English.' His first church - the one given to him by Queen Bertha - now lies beneath the floor of Canterbury Cathedral's nave.