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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

February 2

St. Laurence, Archbishop of Canterbury

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 laboured hard for his conversion to no purpose, and despairing of reclaiming him, thought of nothing but retiring into 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. l. 1. Pontif. Angl.  1
Note 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 Saint 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. [back]