The Early Spread of Christianity in England

Shortly after the Emperor Claudius added a big slice of what is now England to the Roman Empire, Christianity began to spread; slowly, as Christians moving around the Empire found their way to the lonely isle that guarded the Empire’s northern Atlantic frontier. But, as the Empire was bombarded by the Barbarians of Southern and Eastern Europe, the Roman Legions withdrew from Britain to defend the now vulnerable Rome. The Britains, who had not fought for centuries, were now forced to face the brunt of the savage Pics and Scots from the untamed North, and the migrating tribes of the Continent. They hired the Angles and the Saxons to protect them from the invaders; but they had only invited the wolf into the pasture. In a few years they had driven out or killed the helpless natives, and had divided up the territory into kingdoms. Some did escape, and brought the Christian religion into Wales, a mountainous region in southern England, and for centuries the conquered held off the aggressive Barbarians.

Wales gave shelter to the fleeing Britains.

Christianity in the early days of the Roman Church was spreading slowly. Most of the Barbarian tribes of the West didn’t want to accept Christianity, being “content” with their own religion. However, the Popes began to systematically send Monks and Bishops out “into the wild” to attempt to convert some of these barbarians. The Franks were thus converted, as were many others. Finally, a group of monks led by Augustus of Canterbury stepped foot in England, among those peoples (the Angles and Saxons) whose terror had reached their ears before they even got to their destination.

They immediately went to one of the Kings ruling the divided England and asked his permission to preach Christianity to the common people. He agreed, and was soon after converted himself. Slowly, with many setbacks, the people were converted all around, even in the other kingdoms.

St. Patrick

The Britains, embittered by the treachery and slaughter of their ancestors by the Angles and Saxons, refused to join the missionary work; however, the Irish, who had begun to turn to the Christian faith under the influence of Saint Patrick, joined the fray. Unfortunately for unity, they had a different dating of Easter, and their own Church system. This was soon rectified by one of the Kings ruling at the time, who decided to go with the Roman Church’s method of dating Easter and their Church System. Thus, England was slowly converted to the Roman Catholic faith, until the fires lit beneath many a martyr finally sparked the dead Church to action, taking up once more the faith of their fathers, that holy faith, giving birth to the Protestant Reformation.


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