May 26: Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury, 605

The Collect of the Day


O Lord our God, who by your Son Jesus Christ called your servant Augustine to preach the Gospel to the English people: We pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, bide your time, and see your glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christdidst call thy servant Augustine to preach the Gospel to the English people: We pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, bide thy time, and see thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Although Christianity had existed in Britain before the invasionsof Angles and Saxons in the 5th century, Pope Gregory the Great decided in 596 to send a mission to the pagan Anglo-Saxons. He selected, from his own monastery on the Coelian hill in Rome, a group of monks, led by their prior, Augustine. They arrived in Kent in 597, carrying a silver cross and an image of Jesus Christ painted on a board, which thus became, so far as we know, “Canterbury’s first icon.”

King Ethelbert tolerated their presence and allowed them the use of an old church built on the east side of Canterbury, dating from the Roman occupation of Britain. Here, says Bede, they assembled “to sing the psalms, to pray, to say Mass, to preach, and to baptize.” This church of St. Martin is the earliest place of Christian worship in England still in use.

Probably in 601, Ethelbert was converted, thus becoming the first Christian king in England. Around the same time, Augustine was ordained as a bishop somewhere in France and named “Archbishop of the English Nation.” Thus, the see of Canterbury and its Cathedral Church of Christ owe their establishment to Augustine’s mission, as does the nearby Abbey of Saints Peter and Paul, later re-named for Augustine. The “chair of St. Augustine” in Canterbury Cathedral, however, dates from the thirteenth century.

Some correspondence between Augustine and Gregory survives.One of the Pope’s most famous counsels to the first Archbishop of Canterbury has to do with diversity in the young English church. Gregory writes, “If you have found customs, whether in the Roman, Gallican, or any other churches that may be more acceptable to God, I wish you to make a careful selection of them, and teach the church of the English, which is still young in the faith, whatever you can profitably learn from the various churches. For things should not be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things.” This counsel bears on the search for Christian “unity in diversity” of the ecumenical movement of today.

Augustine died on May 26th, probably in 605.

Lessons and Psalm

First Lesson



1Be joyful in God, all you lands; *sing the glory of his Name; sing the glory of his praise.

2Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! *because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3All the earth bows down before you, *sings to you, sings out your Name.”

4Come now and see the works of God, *how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

5He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot, *and there we rejoiced in him.

6In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; *let no rebel rise up against him.

7Bless our God, you peoples; *make the voice of his praise to be heard;

8Who holds our souls in life, *and will not allow our feet to slip.



Luke 5:1–11

1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

2 Corinthians 5:17–21

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.