Augustine of Canterbury

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Augustine of Canterbury (before 540-604 CE) - the name is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, aw-GUS-tin, IPA: /ɔː'gʌstɪn/ - was the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and after his death was recognised as a Saint. The adjective from Augustine is Augustinian - pronounced with the stress on the third syllable aw-gers-TIN-iern, IPA: /,ɔːg'əstɪnɪən/.

There is a common abbreviation in Roman Catholic circles - Austin. This is both spelled and pronounced like the (unrelated) brand name of a motor-car. While some Austins derive their name from Augustine of Hippo, most English bearers of the name derive it from Augustine of Canterbury.


Augustine was a Benedictine monk and prior (i.e., head) of a monastery in Rome when in 595 he was sent to Britain as a missionary by Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) (?540-604 CE, Pope 590-604) with the aim of converting King Ethelbert of Kent (?552-616 CE, reigned 560-616). Augustine's mission was successful: the king converted to Christianity, along with large numbers of his subjects. In 597 Augustine was consecrated a bishop, and in 601 he became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

A copy of the Bible written in Rome in the 6th century which has almost certainly been in England since, or very soon after, the arrival of St Augustine (its presence is attested as far back as the late seventh century) is called The Gospels of St Augustine of Canterbury. It continues to be used at the enthronement of each Archbishop of Canterbury, although, since the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century, it has not belonged to Canterbury. It is now in the library of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, part of the bequest of books by Bishop Matthew Parker, a graduate from the college, in 1575. It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, copy of the Vulgate (translation of the Bible into Latin by St Jerome) extant.