Mellitus

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Mellitus. Bishop of London (604–19), archbishop of Canterbury (619–24). Mellitus was one of the missionaries sent from Rome in 601 to reinforce Augustine's original mission of 597. He was the recipient of a famous letter from Pope Gregory I urging that the English mission should, within the limits of orthodoxy, accommodate itself to practices of the pagans. He is the only missionary known to have made a return visit to Rome, attending a synod there in 610. In 617, when the Christian king of Essex was succeeded by pagan sons, Mellitus was driven from London. (Though they refused baptism they demanded the white communion bread.) A (temporarily) pagan king succeeded in Kent at much the same time, and Mellitus was exiled in Gaul before returning to become archbishop. Bede provides a detail or so about him: he was of noble birth; he suffered from gout.

James Campbell

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