Today is the memorial of Saint Paulinus, first Bishop of York. A monk-priest, he was sent to England as part of Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s second mission to the English, in 601. For two decades he laboured in Kent, preaching and evangelising until, in 625, when the Kentish princess Ethelberga married the powerful Anglo-Saxon king Edwin of Northumbria, Paulinus travelled north as part of her retinue. Within two years he had succeeded in Edwin’s conversion to Christianity, and established the venerable primatial and archdiocesan See of York. What follows is the account by the Venerable Bede of Edwin’s acceptance of the Christian faith and his baptism in 627. The photos above were taken on a visit to York, and its cathedral minster of Saint Peter, in August.
‘So King Edwin, with all the nobility of his kingdom and a large number of humbler folk, accepted the Faith and were washed in the cleansing waters of Baptism in the eleventh year of his reign, which was the year of our Lord 627, and about one hundred and eighty years after the first arrival of the English in Britain. The king’s Baptism took place at York on Easter Day, the 12th of April, in the church of Saint Peter the Apostle, which the king had hastily built of timber during the time of his instruction and preparation for Baptism; and in this city he established the see of his teacher and bishop Paulinus. Soon after his Baptism, at Paulinus’ suggestion, he gave orders to build on the same site a larger and more nobler basilica of stone, which was to enclose the little oratory he had built before. The foundations were laid, and the walls of a square church began to rise around this little oratory; but before they reached their appointed height, the cruel death of the king left the work to be completed by Oswald his successor. Thenceforward for six years, until the close of Edwin’s reign, Paulinus preached the word in that province with the king’s full consent and approval, and as many as were predestined to eternal life believed and were baptised’.
St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
O God our Saviour, who didst send thy servant Paulinus to preach and to baptise, and so to build up thy Church: grant that, being inspired by his example, we may proclaim to the whole world thy truth; that with him we may receive the reward thou hast prepared for all thy faithful servants; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon