Honorius of Canterbury bigraphy, stories - Archbishop of Canterbury

Honorius of Canterbury : biography

- 653

Honorius (died 30 September 653) was a member of the Gregorian mission to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism in 597 AD who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. During his archiepiscopate, he consecrated the first native English bishop of Rochester as well as helping the missionary efforts of Felix among the East Anglians. Honorious was the last to die among the Gregorian missionaries.

Archbishop

In 627, Honorius was consecrated as archbishop by Paulinus of York at Lincoln.Blair World of Bede pp. 96–97 Honorius wrote to Pope Honorius I asking the pope to raise the see of York to an archbishopric, so that when one archbishop in England died, the other would be able to consecrate the deceased bishop's successor. The pope agreed, and sent a pallium for Paulinus, but by this time, Paulinus had already been forced to flee from Northumbria.Hunt "" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography When Paulinus, after the death of King Edwin of Northumbria in October 633, fled Northumbria, he was received by Honorius and appointed to the bishopric of Rochester. The papal letter is dated to June 634, and implies that news of Edwin's death had not reached the pope. This evidence may mean that the traditional date of Edwin's death may need to be moved to October 634.Kirby Earliest English Kings p. 56 The papal letter may also mean that the traditional date of consecration for Honorius may need re-dating, as the long gap between 627, when he is said to have been consecrated, and 634, when he finally received a pallium, is much longer than usually found. It may be that Honorius was consecrated closer to 634. The papal letter to Honorius is given in the Ecclesistical History of the medieval writer Bede.Wright Companion to Bede pp. 57–58

Honorius consolidated the work of converting the English by sending Felix, a Burgundian, to DunwichBrooks Early History of the Church of Canterbury pp. 65–67 after Felix came to the archbishop and made known his desire to go to East Anglia as a missionary. Honorius may have consecrated Felix as the first bishop of East AngliaWalsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 268 or Felix may have already have been consecrated on the continent.Blair World of Bede p. 107 The dating of this episode is unclear, but it is probably close to 631.Kirby Earliest English Kings p. 66 It is possible that King Sigeberht of East Anglia, who converted to Christianity while he was in exile on the continent, had already met Felix and was behind Felix's journey to Honorius. As well as his help to Felix, Honorius consecrated the first Anglo-Saxon bishop, Ithamar of Rochester, and his successor was also a native of England.

Honorius had few conflicts with the Irish missionary efforts, and admired Aidan, one of the leading Irish clergy.Mayr-Harting Coming of Christianity p. 94

Early life

A Roman by birth, Honorius may have been one of those chosen by Pope Gregory the Great for the Gregorian mission to England, although it seems more likely that he was a member of the second party of missionaries, sent in 601.Hindley A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons pp. 43–45Stenton Anglo-Saxon England p. 112–113 It is not known if his name was given to him at birth or if he chose it when he became archbishop.Sharpe "Naming of Bishop Ithamar" English Historical Review p. 3

Death and legacy

Honorius died on 30 September 653,Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 213 the last of the Gregorian missionaries. He was buried at the Church of St. Augustine's in Canterbury. He was later revered as a saint, with his feast day being 30 September. His relics were translated to a new tomb in 1091, and around that same time a haigiography of his life was written by Goscelin.Blair "Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Saints" Local Saints and Local Churches p. 539 In the 1120s his relics were still being venerated at St Augustine's.Hayward "Absent Father" Journal of Medieval History p. 217 footnote 72

Citations

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