St. Laurence, Archbishop of Canterbury

Author: Rev. Alban Butler


Feast: February 2

He was one of those who accompanied St. Austin into this island, about the year 597, and was his immediate successor in the see of Canterbury, in 608, in which he sat eleven years. When Eadbald, son and successor to the holy king Ethelbert, not only refused to follow his father's example in embracing the faith, but gave into idolatry, and incestuously took to his bed his father's widow, Laurence having labored hard for his conversion to no purpose, and despairing of reclaiming him, thought of nothing but retiring to France, as some others had already done. But he was severely scourged by St. Peter, in a dream, on the eve of his intended departure, with reproaches for designing to forsake that flock for which Christ had laid down his life. This did not only prevent his going, but had such an effect upon the king, when he was shown the marks of the stripes he had received on this occasion, that he became a thorough convert, doing whatever was required of him, both for his own sanctification, and the propagation of Christianity in his dominions. St. Laurence did not long survive this happy change, dying in the year 619. He is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology. See Bede, Hist. b. 2, c. 4, 6, 7.[1] Malmesb. 1. 1, Pontif. Angl.


1 From these words of Bede, b. 1, c. 27, Austin sent to Rome Laurence the priest, and Peter the monk some modern historians infer that St. Laurence was no monk, but a secular priest; though this proof is weak. See Collier, Dict Suppl. Henschenius, p. 290. and Le Quien, Oriens Christ t. 1, p. 421.

(Taken from Vol. I of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)