Feast Day : February 2
According to the Venerable St. Bede, Lawrence of Canterbury was one of the original missionaries who left Rome with St. Augustine in 595 and arrived in Thanet (Canterbury) in 597. After Augustine was consecrated, he sent Lawrence back to Rome to deliver to Pope St. Gregory I the Great (r. 590–604) the news of the conversion of King Ethelbert and his people, to announce his consecration and to ask for direction on certain questions. Lawrence returned with the pope’s responses. Augustine consecrated Lawrence as bishop, and Lawrence succeeded him as archbishop upon Augustine’s death in 604. According to Bede, Lawrence worked diligently to strengthen the Church, and urged Celtic bishops to agree to peace and unity with Rome. But Lawrence’s efforts were undone in the turmoil that followed the death of King Ethelbert in 616, and the reestablishment of pagan kings, including Edbald, son of Ethelbert. SS. Mellitus and Justus, bishops of the newly founded sees of London and Rochester, took refuge with Lawrence at Canterbury and urged him to flee to Gaul with them. The two men left. The discouraged Lawrence was preparing to follow them when he had a dream in which St. Peter appeared to him and rebuked him for abandoning his flock and beat him. In the morning Lawrence found wounds on his back and showed them to King Edbald. Impressed by the dream, the king converted. Mellitus and Justus were recalled to England, and evangelized throughout Kent and the surrounding areas. Shortly after these events, Lawrence died on February 2, 619, in Canterbury and was buried near Augustine in the north porch of St. Peter’s Abbey church, afterward known as St. Augustine’s. Lawrence is commemorated in the Irish Stowe Missal. His dream of the beating by St. Peter resembles the dream of St. Jerome, in which that saint was beaten by God for his pagan interests.