St. Paulinus of York, Bishop

10 October

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Born c. 584; died at Rochester, England, 644. In 601, Saint Paulinus was sent as a missionary from Rome to England by Pope Saint Gregory I (f.d. September 3) with Saints Mellitus (f.d. April 24) and Justus (f.d. November 10). There they assisted Saint Augustine (f.d. May 27) by evangelising in Kent for 24 years.

He was consecrated bishop of York in 625 by Justus, then accompanied Saint Ethelburga (f.d. April 5), daughter of King Ethelbert of Kent, to Northumbria as her chaplain when she married Edwin of Northumbria. Saint Bede tells us that two years later (627) Paulinus baptized King Saint Edwin (f.d. October 12) on Easter Eve in York, bringing Christianity to Northumbria. (A much less reliable source, the Welsh Nennius, ascribes Edwin's baptism to a Welsh priest.) Paulinus and his assistants baptized thousands, who followed their king into Christianity.

Saint Paulinus, described as a tall, dark man, "of venerable and awe-inspiring appearance," followed up Edwin's baptism with a series of missionary journeys over a wide area. He reached as far north as Lincoln. During the last year's of Edwin's reign, there was such peace and order in his dominions that a proverb arose: A woman could carry her new-born baby across the island from sea to sea and suffer no harm (Bede). But the peace did not last for long.

Pope Saint Honorius I (f.d. September 30) recognised Paulinus as archbishop of York, but before the letter arrived the first missionary efforts in Northumbria had ended. When Edwin was slain by the pagan Mercian Cadwallon at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633, Northumbria reverted to paganism. Paulinus returned to Kent by sea with Ethelburga, her two children, and Edwin's grandson Osfrid. He left his deacon James to conduct the missionary efforts to the best of his ability in difficult circumstances. Paulinus was named administrator of the vacant see of Rochester, administered it for 10 years (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia).

Service to our Holy Father Paulinus, Bishop of York

Generally, Paulinus is depicted as an archbishop baptizing King Saint Edwin (Roeder).

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