Augustine was prior of the monastery of St. Andrew on the Coelian, and was appointed by St. Gregory the Great chief of the missionaries whom he sent to England.
St. Augustine and his companions, having heard on their journey many reports of the barbarism and ferocity of the pagan English, were afraid, and wished to turn back. But St. Gregory replied, “Go on, in God’s name! The greater your hardships, the greater your crown. May the grace of Almighty God protect you, and give me to see the fruit of your labor in the heavenly country! If I cannot share your toil, I shall yet share the harvest, for God knows that it is not good-will which is wanting.” The band of missionaries went on in obedience.
Landing at Ebbsfleet, between Sandwich and Ramsgate, they met King Ethelbert and his thanes under a great oak-tree at Minster, and announced to him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instant and complete success attended their preaching. On Whit Sunday, 596, King Ethelbert was baptized, and his example was followed by the greater number of his nobles and people. By degrees the faith spread far and wide.
St. Augustine died after eight years of evangelical labors.
Reflection. — The work of an apostle is the work of the right Hand of God. He often chooses weak instruments for His mightiest purposes.
Text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).