St Augustine Introduces Julian Calendar to England

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St Augustine Introduces Julian Calendar to England

Canterbury, Kent The 25th of December 597 AD

St Augustine was chosen by Pope Gregory to introduce or more accurately re-introduce Roman Christianity to England in 597, the pagan Saxons having settled the land since the end of Roman control in the early 5th century. After much hesitation – his party turned back at one point, requesting they be allowed to return to the comfort of Rome – he and his 40 companion monks arrived in Kent that year.

King Aethelbert of Kent had married a Christian, so Augustine was allowed the use of a Roman church in Canterbury, and eventually was able to commence the construction of a monastery again using Roman remains. Aethelbert himself was converted in the summer of 597.
The introduction of Christianity required the organised observation of saints’ days and other holy days, to which end Augustine introduced the Julian calendar as used by Rome since Julius Caesar had settled on it in 46BC. Fittingly the most significant of all Christian holy days, Christmas, was the date at which this introduction is said to have been formalised in Kent. The entirety of England would not adopt the Julian system until the Council of Chelsea in 816AD, with King Offa behind the move.

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