Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Biographies


Saint Laurence, Archbishop of Canterbury


Source:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/3705

A first approach to the indigenous Orthodox Saints and Martyrs of the Ancient Church who lived and who propagated the Faith in the British Isles and Ireland during the first millennium of Christianity and prior to the Great Schism is being attempted in our website  in our desire to inform our readers, who may not be aware of the history, the labours or the martyrdom of this host of Orthodox Saints of the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord.

"The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints"     (Saint Arsenios of Paros 1877)


St. Laurence of Canterbury (Reposed 2 February, 619).  Laurence was one of the monks who had accompanied St.Augustine on his mission to the Kingdom of Kent and, once King Ethelbert was baptised and the Christian Faith was firmly established in his kingdom, he became the Archbishop's chief assistant. Augustine was worried that in the event of his death the new converts might return to paganism and so he consecrated Laurence as his coadjutor bishop to succeed him when he died.

Laurence was industrious when he became Archbishop and renewed Augustine's efforts to win over the Celtic Church to the customs of the Roman, but the mission suffered a severe setback, for with the death of Ethelbert the people of Kent began to fall away from their new faith. This was largely due to Eadbald, the new king, who had not followed his father in becoming a Christian and had offended against Church law by marrying his stepmother. The remonstrations by the Archbishop only served to make the king more determined in his heathen practices and Laurence began to despair, deciding with his fellow bishops, Mellitus of London and Justus of Rochester, to abandon the English nation as beyond redemption.

Mellitus and Justus left the country and Laurence was to follow them on the next day. For his last night he had a bed prepared in the abbey church before the High Altar, and after he had said his prayers he went to sleep. At the dead of night he was awoken by a vision in which the Apostle Peter scourged him with a great whip, asking him the reason for his desertion.

"Why do you forsake the flock committed to you?" he asked. "To what shepherds are you leaving Christ's sheep, who are among wolves? Have you forgotten my example, who for the sake of these little ones that Christ gave me as a token of His affection, suffered at the hands of unbelievers chains, beatings, imprisonment, tortures and finally crucifixion that I might be crowned with Him?"

In the morning Laurence went to Eadbald and showed him the scars of the beating that he had received, and the King was horrified to learn that hands had been laid upon such a holy man, demanding to know who had presumed to use him so. When the Archbishop told him, the King was greatly impressed and, renouncing his marriage, was baptised into the Christian Faith.

Mellitus and Justus returned, and St. Laurence continued to build up the Church of Christ in England. When he died his body was interred in the abbey church, where he had had his vision, and he was remembered by a hospital in the Old Dover Road, which is part of Watling Street (now replaced by the County Cricket Ground still bearing his name.)


Article published in English on: 2-2-2010.

Last update: 2-2-2010.