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St. Augustine Of Canterbury

      A complete biography of St. Augustine of Canterbury it is impossible to write: almost all that is known of him is his work as a missionary to the English, and almost the only source of our knowledge of that missionary work is the "Ecclesiastical History" of Baeda. But the mission of St. Augustine was one of the great crises, not only of the history of the Christian Church, but of the history of human civilization. The difference between a number of Celtic churches, with bishops largely subordinate to the abbots of monasteries, included (as it seems) in none of the great Catholic patriarchates, cut off from all communication with the great centres of human thought and life--and a Church of England taking her place, at once independent and subordinate, in the swift development of human progress, both conservative and creative--this difference is quite incalculable. And the mission of St. Augustine made the difference.

      The triumph of Christianity depended--apart from its divine authority--upon the thorough organization of the Christian communities; and that organization had for its centre the Episcopacy. But as separate congregations without a bishop could never have escaped disintegration, so the united congregations, with their presbyters and bishop, would have been powerless without some further organization, uniting the bishops, with well-defined regulations, under some recognized hierarchy of authority. Thus arose metropolitan sees, and the great patriarchates ... more of the Biography of St. Augustine Of Canterbury

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