What will Mother Evelyn do on her Pilgrimage? Mother Evelyn responds:
March 3, 2017, 12:00 AM

This past week, I received the schedule for the trip to Canterbury (March 16-21).  A lot of it will consist of attending services at the Cathedral, another chunk will involve visiting sites around the Cathedral close and Canterbury in general, and a third will be private, quiet time for prayer and meditation. 

Way back in the year 597, Pope Gregory (the great) appointed a Benedictine monk by the name of Austin or Augustine as a “missionary to the English,” along with 40 monks, and sent them off to convert the Angles and the Saxons then inhabiting most of the southeast quadrant of what is now England.  He landed off the coast of Kent, and was welcomed by King Aethelberht (Ethelbert) of Kent.  While Aethelberht was a pagan, his wife, Bertha (or Berhta), daughter of Charibert, king of Paris, was a Frankish princess who had continued to follow her Christian faith after her arrival in Kent, worshiping at the tiny St. Martin’s church outside the city walls.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the monks were moderately successful in their conversion work, reportedly baptizing Aethelberht and thousands of his people on Christmas Day 597.  This being reported to Rome, the Pope sent a “pallium” (essentially a blessed, large white cloth) and authorized Augustine to ordain twelve suffragan (assisting) bishops; this had the practical effect of making the Bishop of Canterbury not only an arch-bishop, but also, ultimately, the supreme religious leader in England.[1]  (The arch-bishop of York is subordinate to Canterbury.)

Augustine and his monks founded an abbey named for Sts. Peter and Paul (later changed to St Augustine), the ruins of which are on the tourist route, along with St Matthew’s tiny church.  He also founded a Cathedral, which has a long and complex history.[2]

Our activities will include visits to St. Matthew’s Church, the abbey ruins (and Augustine’s burial place), the ruins of another abbey on the Cathedral grounds, the Cathedral archives and library, and a candlelight tour of the building.  We will hear daily Choral Evensong, and join in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday the 19th.  We will see the site where Thomas Becket was martyred, enjoy an organ concert, and we may even get a chance to climb to the roof for a view of the city and environs.

Do you have a question about why we do the things we do? 
Let Mother Evelyn know!






[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Augustine-of-Canterbury

[2] https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/history/