Faithful Friday: Lawrence of Canterbury

By Ian Wilson (Rated G)

Lawrence of Canterbury was one of the early missionaries sent to Britain from Rome along with St. Augustine of Canterbury. After Augustine’s death around 604, Lawrence succeeded him as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lawrence was, by all accounts, a very pious bishop, who sought to keep the newly formed English church whole and within orthodoxy. The only verified document by Lawrence in existence is a letter to certain Celtic bishops, urging them to remain united with their new Roman fellow laborers. 

After the death of King Ethelbert, the first Christian king of the English, in 616, the kingdom was thrown into a time of upheaval. Ethelbert’s son, Eadbald, did not share his father’s faith, and attempted to reinstate paganism. Under this wave of persecution, Mellitus and Justus, bishops of London and Rochester, departed for Gaul, urging Lawrence to flee with them. Lawrence, much discouraged by the undoing of the work he and Augustine had done, prepared to follow them, but St. Peter appeared to him in a dream, rebuking Lawrence for leaving his flock and inflicting wounds upon him.

Lawrence then went immediately to King Eadbald and told him of the vision he’d had and showed him the wounds he had received. Eadbald, convinced by the bishop’s faith, converted immediately and restored Christianity to his kingdom. St. Lawrence died shortly thereafter and was buried alongside Augustine. 

May we all keep the faith through difficult times, like Lawrence.

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