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Honorius of Canterbury, St.


Archbishop, fifth successor of augustine of can terbury; d. Sept. 30, 653. A disciple of Pope gregory the great at Rome, he may have been a member of Augustine's original mission to England. He was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury by the senior English bishop, paulinus of york, at Lincoln, 627. When the death of King edwin of northumbria (633) and the collapse of the new Northumbrian church under the pagan king, Penda, sent Paulinus into exile, he fled to Honorius under whom he served as bishop of Rochester. Honorius received the pallium from the pope in 634. Early in his career Honorius had a valuable assistant in a Burgundian bishop, Felix of Dunwich, whom he sent to evangelize the East Anglians. Honorius retained a special interest in this mission and when Felix died there after 17 years, Honorius found the East Anglians another bishop, Thomas. It was under Honorius that birinus began the conversion of the West Saxons. Although the death of Edwin and the flight of Paulinus had seemed to mark the end of the infant Northumbrian church, in 635 King osw ald seized power there and invited a Celtic monk, Aidan, from iona to become bishop of the Northumbrians. This created a difficult situation; although Honorius had great respect for Aidan, he opposed his Celtic customs for observing Easter. The matter did not, however, come to a head until after Honorius's death (see whitby, abbey of).

Feast: Sept. 30.

Bibliography: bede, Ecclesiastical History bks. 2 and 3. a.w. haddam and w. stubbs, eds., Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, 3 v. in 4 (Oxford 186978) 3:8298. f. m. stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (2d ed. Oxford 1947).

[e. john]

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