St. Adrian of Canterbury, Abbot

9 January

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Born in Africa; died at Canterbury, England, January 9, 710.

Saint Adrian became abbot at Nerida near Naples, Italy. Upon the death of Saint Deusdedit, the archbishop of Canterbury (England), Pope Saint Vitalian chose Adrian to replace the bishop because of his great learning and piety. Adrian seemed to be the perfect leader for a nation new in its Christianity. Yet Adrian demurred saying that he was not fitted for such a great dignity. He said that he would find someone else more suited for the task.

The first substitute was too ill to become archbishop. Again the pope urged the post on Adrian. Again Adrian begged permission to find someone else. At that time a Greek monk from Tarsus named Theodore was in Rome. Adrian nominated Theodore to the pope. Theodore was willing to become archbishop of Canterbury, but only if Adrian agreed to come to England and help him. Adrian readily consented to this compromise. It was agreed that Adrian would accompany Theodore to England as his assistant and adviser. On March 26, 668, Theodore was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury and two months later the two set sail for England.

They were a perfect team. Theodore appointed Adrian abbot of SS Peter and Paul abbey, afterward called Saint Augustine's, at Canterbury, where he taught Greek and Latin for 39 years. Here Adrian's learning and virtues were best employed. In addition to these languages, Adrian taught poetry, astronomy and math, as well as Scripture and virtue.

Into the minds of his students, Adrian "poured the waters of wholesome knowledge day by day," according to the Venerable Bede. The school became famous for its teaching and trained such as Saints Aldhelm and Oftfor. Bede records that Saint Adrian was 'very learned in the Holy Scriptures, very experienced in administering the church and the monastery, and a great Greek and Latin scholar.' He also is said to have commented that some of Adrian's students spoke Latin and Greek equally as well as their native languages.

The abbot also helped the archbishop in his pastoral undertakings. There can be no doubt that the flourishing of the English Church in Theodore's time owed much to Adrian.

Adrian was known for miracles that helped students in trouble with their masters, and miracles were associated with his tomb in Saint Augustine's Church (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopaedia, Gill, Walsh, White).

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