By Sarah Levesque
St. Birinus, sometimes called Birin or Berin was consecrated as a bishop and sent by Pope Honorius I to be a missionary to the people of Britain. He was successful in converting the pagan king of the West Saxons, Cynegils, and his family. Oswald, the king of Northumbria, was the sponsor of Cynegils and married his daughter. Cynegils gave Birinus leave to build churches in Dorcic or Dorchester, the capital of Wessex, which became Birin’s diocese. Little else is known about Birinus, aside from the date of his death – December 3, 650. His remains were transferred to the Winchester Cathedral in 680 by Bishop Headda.
A tradition tells that at the beginning of Birinus’ journey to Britain, he left behind his corporal (the altar cloth that the vessels holding the Body of Christ are placed on) and, instead of accepting the loss or asking the sailors to return for it, Birinus walked across the sea from the ship to the shore, retrieved the corporal, and returned to the ship in the same fashion.