Mellitus (died 24 April 624): 1° Bishop of London in Saxon period, 3° Archbishop of Canterbury, and member of Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity.
Mellitus was the recipient of a famous letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved in a later work by the medieval chronicler and Doctor of the Church Bede,also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops convened by Pope Boniface I, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.
Mellitus as bishop of London was forced to flee to the continent during the pagan reaction which followed the death of the East Saxon king Saeberht in 616. King Æthelberht of Kent, Mellitus’ other patron, died at about the same time, forcing him to take refuge in Gaul. Mellitus returned to England the following year, after Æthelberht’s successor had been converted to Christianity, but he was unable to return to London, whose inhabitants remained pagan. In the Kingdom of Essex final conversion to Christianity took place in the 650s under Bishop Cedd from Northumbria; the nave of his church at Bradwell-on-sea still survives.
Mellitus who was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 619, during his tenure, was alleged to have miraculously saved the cathedral, and much of the town of Canterbury, from a fire.
Bede was the only native of Great Britain to achieve the title of Doctor of the Church recognizing him as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding his contribution to theology or doctrine.
CHAP. XXX. A copy of the letter which Pope Gregory sent to the Abbot Mellitus, then going into Britain. [601 A.D.]
The aforesaid envoys having departed, the blessed Father Gregory sent after them a letter worthy to be recorded, wherein he plainly shows how carefully he watched over the salvation of our country. The letter was as follows:
“To his most beloved son, the Abbot Mellitus; Gregory, the servant of the servants of God. We have been much concerned, since the departure of our people that are with you, because we have received no account of the success of your journey. Howbeit, when Almighty God has led, you to the most reverend Bishop Augustine, our brother, tell him what I have long been considering in my own mind concerning the matter of the English people; to wit, that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed; but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let water be consecrated and sprinkled in the said temples, let altars be erected, and relics placed there. For if those temples are well built, it is requisite that they be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God; that the nation, seeing that their temples are not destroyed, may remove error from their hearts, and knowing and adoring the true God, may the more freely resort to the places to which they have been accustomed. And because they are used to slaughter many oxen in sacrifice to devils, some solemnity must be given them in exchange for this, as that on the day of the dedication, or the nativities of the holy martyrs, whose relics are there deposited, they should build themselves huts of the boughs of trees about those churches which have been turned to that use from being temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting, and no more offer animals to the Devil, but kill cattle and glorify God in their feast, and return thanks to the Giver of all things for their abundance; to the end that, whilst some outward gratifications are retained, they may the more easily consent to the inward joys. For there is no doubt that it is impossible to cut off every thing at once from their rude natures; because he who endeavours to ascend to the highest place rises by degrees or steps, and not by leaps. Thus the Lord made Himself known to the people of Israel in Egypt; and yet He allowed them the use, in His own worship, of the sacrifices which they were wont to offer to the Devil, commanding them in His sacrifice to kill animals, to the end that, with changed hearts, they might lay aside one part of the sacrifice, whilst they retained another; and although the animals were the same as those which they were wont to offer, they should offer them to the true God, and not to idols; and thus they would no longer be the same sacrifices. This then, dearly beloved, it behoves you to communicate to our aforesaid brother, that he, being placed where he is at present, may consider how he is to order all things. God preserve you in safety, most beloved son.
“Given the 17th of June, in the nineteenth year of the reign of our most religious lord, Mauritius Tiberius Augustus, the eighteenth year after the consulship of our said lord, and the fourth indiction.”
Note to previous writings:
- Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
- Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend
- Autumn traditions for 2014 – 3 Black Mass, Horror spectacles and pure puritans
- Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God
- All Saints’ Day
- All Souls’ Day
- Oct 26 – Alfred the Great (holywomenholymen.wordpress.com)
When the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by Celtic peoples. In the 400’s, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the Continent.)
- Oct 26 – Alfred the Great, King + Christ Follower (practicingparadoxy.com)
In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius’ Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:
“He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear.”
- Seminar CXLIV: who was afraid of the end in millennial England? (tenthmedieval.wordpress.com)
the Apocalypse becomes always imminent but never here, and in this respect we could have just the same debate about Pope Gregory I around 600 as we could have about, say, Abbot Æfric of Eynsham around 1000, whose list of events that should be read as showing the end times being in progress went back to the first century!2 If there was genuine worry about these issues, it’s both hard to separate from the utility of the trope for moral reformers (the basic conclusion of my students that term) and possible to find whenever we have the right kind of evidence.
- 2000 years of Christianity : what happened? – Part III – 600AD – 1200AD (biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com)
The language of the Bible was soon turning from the Greek to Latin and doctrines such as the trinity, veneration of mary & other saints would also become part and parcel of Christianity, while the Sabbath would be outlawed, as well as having any connection with ideas seen as Jewish. The New Testament list of books was finally decided upon, while Christianity steadily spread all over Europe extending the power of Rome throughout most areas, being dominated by the teachings and understandings of the Roman Church. For the 1st part of this study, highlighting the History of Christianity from 30AD – 300AD please go here. For the 2nd part, highlighting the History of Christianity from 300AD – 600AD please go here.
- Monday (October 13): “This generation seeks a sign; no sign will be given given it.” (shechina.wordpress.com)
Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his Norman wife, Emma, daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy. He was born at Islip, England, and sent to Normandy with his mother in the year 1013 when the Danes under Sweyn and his son Canute invaded England. Canute remained in England and the year after Ethelred’s death in 1016, married Emma, who had returned to England, and became King of England.
- Hilda of Whitby ~ A Ray of Light in the “Dark Ages” (thefreelancehistorywriter.com)
The Freelance History Writer has written a guest article for the Ancient History Encyclopedia about the 7th Century Anglo-Saxon Abbess, Hilda of Whitby.
- The Masonic Archons of the Tribe of Judah (theeventchronicle.com)
the Father of English History and Doctor of the Church, Saint Bede who had lived in the 7th century. In his book Titled, “the Ecclesiastical History of England“, he had written; “Accordingly they engaged with the enemy, who come from the north to give battle, and the Saxons obtained the victory. When the news of their success and of the fertility of the country, and the cowardice of the Britons, reached their own home, a more considerable fleet was quickly sent over, bringing a greater number of men, and these, being added to the former army, made up an invincible force. The newcomers received of the Britons a place to inhabit among them, upon condition that they should wage war against their enemies for the peace and security of the country, whilst the Britons agreed to furnish them with pay. Those who came over were of the three most powerful nations of Germany—Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the people, of Kent, and of the Isle of Wight, including those in the province of the West-Saxons who are to this day called Jutes, seated opposite to the Isle of Wight.”