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

September 30

St. Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury Confessor

THIS apostolic man was a Roman by birth, and a monk by profession. St. Gregory the Great, from the experience which he had of his great virtue, and skill in sacred literature, made choice of him for one of the holy missionaries whom he sent to convert the English nation to the faith. Upon the death of St. Justus about the year 630, St. Honorius was chosen archbishop of Canterbury. He was consecrated at Lincoln by St. Paulinus, archbishop of York, and received the pall sent from Rome by Pope Honorius I. together with a letter, in which his holiness ordained, that whenever either the see of Canterbury or York should become vacant, the other archbishop should ordain the person that should be duly elected. 1 Our holy archbishop saw with joy the faith of Christ extended daily in many different parts of this island, and the spirit of the gospel to take deep root in the hearts of many chosen servants of God. His care in filling all places with pastors truly dead to the world and all worldly interests or views, and his own zealous labours and shining example contributed exceedingly, with the divine blessing, to so wonderful an increase. He died on the 30th of September in 653, and was succeeded by Deusdedit. His name occurs in the Roman Martyrology. See Bede, Hist. l. 2, c. 18, 20, l. 3, c. 20; Wharton, Anglia Sacra, t. 1; and the life of this saint by Goscelin abridged in Capgrave, and entire in a fair old MS. in the Cotton library.

Note 1. St. Gregory gave St. Austin authority over all the bishops of Britain; but seems to have meant this as a personal privilege, which was to die with him. (See Bede, l. 1, c. 29.) For the same pope directed that as soon as all the provinces of England should be converted, Canterbury should have twelve suffragans, and York as many. St. Paulinus was consecrated the first archbishop of York, by St. Justus, in 625, and received the pall from Rome, though he had never a suffragan bishop under him. Upon the death of king Edwin in 633, and the apostasy of his successors, St. Paulinus retired, and died bishop of Rochester. Whilst SS. Aidan, Finan, and Colman converted the Northumbers and resided at Lindisfarne, the see of York remained vacant, till St. Chad was chosen to fill it. In Egbert it recovered the archiepiscopal dignity. Offa, king of the Mercians, obtained of Pope Adrian I. the grant of metropolitical dignity for Litchfield, over six suffragans, viz. of Worcester, Leicester, Sidnacester, (now Hatfield in Lincolnshire,) Hereford, Elmam, and Thetford; but seven years after, Leo III. restored these sees to Canterbury, and Adulf, bishop of Litchfield, resigned the archiepiscopal dignity, and the primacy over all England was finally settled at Canterbury. See the council of Cloveshoe (that is, Abbingdon) in 803, and Mr. Johnson, ad eum ann. t. 1. [back]