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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Honorius, Saint

Archbishop of Canterbury, fifth in succession from St. Augustine, elected 627

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Honorius, Saint, Archbishop of Canterbury, fifth in succession from St. Augustine, elected 627; consecrated at Lincoln by St. Paulinus of York, 628; d. September 30, 653 (the last date alone is certain; the others are those usually accepted); commemorated, by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (1883), in the Supplement to the Breviary for England on September 30 Little is known about the history of this saint before his elevation, and not much more of his long episcopate. From Bede we gather that he was a Roman monk, a disciple of St. Gregory, and probably a Benedictine. He either accompanied St. Augustine in 596 or was one of the second band of missionaries sent in 601. As a member of that apostolic company, he must have led that life of fervent piety, which, we are told, had so much effect in converting the inhabitants of Kent. When Honorius's predecessor, Justus, died, Paulinus, fresh from the conversion of Northumbria, was the only English bishop left to consecrate him. From two letters of Pope Honorius I, preserved in Bede, it appears that Honorius and his consecrator, in applying to Rome for their pallia, asked that, in order to avoid the delays and uncertainties then involved in a journey to Italy, whenever the occupant of one of the metropolitan sees should die, the survivor should have power to consecrate the successor, a request which the pope granted. The chief act of Honorius's episcopate was the mission of St. Felix, whom he consecrated and sent to convert the East Angles, an expedition which was crowned with complete success. He administered his own diocese with great zeal and energy. The pope's letter to him shows that his life was spent in the vigorous exercise of the duties of his office and in the faithful observance of the rule of his master, St. Gregory. On the over-throw of the flourishing Kingdom and Church of Northumbria by Cadwalla of Wales and Penda of Mercia in 633, he received Paulinus and appointed him to the vacant See of Rochester. On the death of Paulinus in 644, Honorius consecrated Ithamar, a native of Kent, as his successor. And some years later, he consecrated a deacon of Mercia, Thomas, to succeed Felix in East Anglia, and in or about 652 Berctgils or Boniface, a native of Kent, to succeed Thomas. Next year the archbishop himself died and was buried with his predecessors in the church of Saints Peter and Paul, founded by St. Augustine.

JOSEPH KEATING


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