Sunday 25th May 1997 was especially marked by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches as a time to remember the coming of St. Augustine to Britain in 597. Our photograph (from The Times) shows the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, walking through a cornfield at Cliffsend near Ramsgate along with other pilgrims, who sought to trace the footsteps of Pope Gregory’s envoy to Britain those many years ago. He was believed to have landed atHugin Green, Ramsgate, where on this Sunday in 1997 Dr Carey was joined by Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, to greet the arrival of fifty pilgrims who had made their way from Rome, via Assisi and Reims. The sun was shining. It was a pleasant spring day, and all this helped to make the occasion one to be enjoyed and remembered.
What was it all about? Pope Gregory sent Augustine to Britain to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. That is what the text books tell us. And these same text books and encyclopaedias go on to say that Augustine became the founding father of Christianity inEngland. The article in The Times newspaper, from which I have quoted above, prompted me to write to the Editor.
27th May, 1997
Yesterday’s photograph of the “happy band of pilgrims” at Ramsgate, to commemorate the landing of St. Augustine in 597 suggests a pleasant ecumenical summer outing, attended by the heads of the Anglican and Catholic communions inEngland. But something is out of order here. The Anglo-Saxons he was sent to convert were not the barbaric savages we now read about.
Sadly, the ecclesiastical history books of this land have raised Augustine to prominence, and disregarded the many documentary evidences showing the existence of a well-organised church in this land centuries before the Saint stepped ashore at Hugin Green.
Three years after his arrival, Augustine wrote to Pope Gregory in the following words – “In the Western confines of Britain there is a royal island of large extent, surrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and necessities of life. In it the first neophytes of catholic law, God beforehand acquainting them, found a church constructed by no human art, but by the hands of Christ Himself, for the salvation of His people.”
Even though the language may be somewhat obscure, there can be no doubt as to the primary force of these words. Many other early writers concur, showing that Joseph of Arimathea, with an august company of believers from Judaea, landed at Glastonbury in A.D. 36.
J.B.Phillips, in his Translator’s Preface to “The Young Churches in Action” wrote, “Men and women who would be deeply ashamed of having their ignorance exposed in matters of poetry, music, ballet, or painting, for example, are not in the least perturbed to be found ignorant of the New Testament.” May I suggest that his comment applies equally well to the subject of early church history?
Yours faithfully, Arthur Eedle.
My letter was not printed. This is understandable. The Times receives literally hundreds of letters each day. Only a handful ever get into print.
Here is a case of sheer incompetence on the part of historians. It is understandable for Catholics to commemorate the arrival of Augustine, but why should Dr. Carey be there amongst them? Does not the Anglican communion believe in something different? Why have our history books remained silent about Christianity in Britain during those six centuries before Augustine? Let us examine the evidence, based on actual historical records.
First of all, a most surprising fact was reported in The Morning Post (merged with The Daily Telegraph later) of 27th March 1931. “The Mayors of Bath, Colchester, and Dorchester, and the 150 visiting members of the Friends of Italy Society, were today received in special audience by the Pope. His holiness, in a specially prepared address, advanced the theory that it was St. Paul himself and not Pope Gregory, who first introduced Christianity into Britain.” Perhaps the Pope was aware of the pronouncements of the Church Councils of Pisa (1409),Constance (1417), Sienna (1424), and Basle (1434). There had been much heated debate concerning the antiquity of the church. Arising from these Councils the following words were written – “The churches of France and Spain must yield in points of antiquity and precedence to that of Britain, as the latter church was founded by Joseph of Arimathea immediately after the passion of Christ.”
Notice that these evidences arise from Roman Catholic authorities themselves. We can go back even further, and quote (in translation) the words of Sabellius, (the R.C. prelate and theologian who was excommunicated by Pope Calixtus in A.D. 220.) In A.D. 250 he wrote, “Christianity was privately confessed elsewhere, but the first nation that produced it as their religion and called it Christian, after the name of Christ, was Britain.”
Cardinal Baronius, (1538 – 1607) who became Curator of the Vatican Library in 1597, wrote the following in his Ecclesiatical Annals. “In that year, [i.e. A.D. 36] the party of Joseph of Arimathea and those who went with him into exile, was put out to sea in a vessel without sails of oars. This vessel drifted, and finally reached Massilia [i.e. Marseilles] where they were saved. From Massilia Joseph and his company passed into Britain and after preaching the Gospel there, died.”
We now quote from other reliable sources of ancient times. The monk, “Gildas the Wise”, one of our earliest historians, penned the following lines in A.D. 550. They are taken from DeExidio Brittanniae. “We certainly know that Christ, the true Son, afforded His light, the knowledge of His precepts to our Island in the last year of Tiberius Caesar.” Tiberius reigned for 22 years, ending in A.D. 37, just four years after the resurrection.
Tertullian, the early Christian Father (A.D. 155 – 222) wrote as follows. “The extremities of Spain, the various parts of Gaul, the regions of Britain which have never been penetrated by Roman arms, have received the religion of Christ.”
Origen of Alexandria, wrote in A.D. 230, “The divine goodness of our Lord and Saviour is equally diffused among the Britons, the Africans, and other nations of the world.”
St. Jerome, writing from Bethlehem in A.D. 378, said, “From India to Britain, all nations resound with the death and resurrection of Christ.”
Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote in A.D. 402, “The British Isles, which are beyond the sea, and which lie in the ocean, have received the virtue of the word. Churches are there founded and altars erected. Though you should go to the ocean, to the British Isles, there you will hear all men everywhere discoursing matters out of the Scriptures, with a different voice indeed, but not another faith, with a different tongue but the same judgment.”
Arnobius, the Christian apologist, writing about A.D. 300, declared, “So swiftly runs the word of God that though in several thousand years God was not known except among the Jews, now within the space of a few years His word is concealed neither from the Indians in the East nor from the Britons in the West.”
Eusebius, the Church Historian (A.D. 260 – 340) wrote, “The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the Isles called the Britannic Isles.”
St Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, wrote in A.D. 303, “Aristobulus, whom Paul saluted when writing to the Romans, was Bishop of Britain, . . . and Simon Zelotes preached Christ through allMauretania and Afric the less. At length he was crucified in Britannia, slain and buried.” (At Caistor in Lincolnshire)
These are by no means the entirety of ancient written histories relating to British Christianity, but are sufficient to show that evidence is being suppressed for some reason. Why is this, when British people are normally very fond of their past, their inheritance, and their victories? They sing with much emotion songs like “Rule Britannia”, “Land of hope and glory,” “Jerusalem,” and “There’ll always be an England.” So why the suppression of truth in respect of the precedence of England as a Christian nation, from the first century A.D.?
This is our first chapter, and it comes as a prime example of media cover-up. As we progress through the book, looking at many diverse subjects, we shall find again and again thattruths which are of great value and importance to God’s children have been side-tracked, mis-represented, or (as is often the case) just left without any reporting at all.
However, even if we cannot find either a rational or an irrational answer to this problem, we believe it to be of vital importance to all those who live in this land to know of our Christian inheritance. We say this, not to elevate our country above others, but to demonstrate the force of our Saviour’s words, “Unto whom much is given, much is expected.” By erasing the knowledge of our distant past, the foundation stone of Christianity, we are left without satisfactory means of assessing the process of Heaven’s Judgment on our land through the centuries from the Resurrection of Christ. Satan has been trying to blot out every sign of God’s working. The young people of our land are now bereft of the facts of our Christian inheritance. It is not taught in our schools. It is not even taught in the churches, where the modern “bless me” gospel has replaced the former foundation, based on ALL Scripture, and ALL British Christian history.
Many acts of judgment of recent years, both here and in America, can be linked to significant departures from God’s Laws. To demonstrate the correlation between Lawlessness and Judgment will be a major thrust in this present writing.