Saber and Scroll


Excerpted on author's behalf:

In the mid-fifth century, the western portion of the Roman Empire had suffered an unrecoverable collapse, and Roman Christianity was supplanted in the provinces with either the pagan animism of the Anglo-Saxons and Franks or the heretical Arianism of the Goths and Vandals. Pope Leo's bold proclamation of papal and Roman Catholic leadership did not coincide with social and political realities; he was writing at a time when the Roman Church held influence in Italy but little elsewhere. Establishing the authority of the Roman See in the Germanic kingdoms that occupied approximately what is now France, Spain, and Britain required the sustained efforts of successive popes and the churchmen who worked under their auspices. A key part of this long-range effort to translate the Petrine Doctrine from abstraction to reality included the late sixth-century mission to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent in Britain that Pope Gregory the Great (r. 590-604) organized. The Gregorian mission resulted in the conversion of the pagan Kentish kingdom and the establishment of the Episcopal Church at Canterbury, the first Latin Church in Britain since Roman times. More importantly, the Gregorian mission planted the seed of Latin Christianity in Britain and culminated in the conversion of the whole island less than a century later under the leadership of the pope in Rome.



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