Peter of Canterbury

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Our father among the saints Peter of Canterbury was a monk and later priest among the first group of missionaries sent to proselytize the Anglo-Saxons in England in the late sixth century. He was a companion of Augustine of Canterbury. He became the first abbot of the monastery at Canterbury that was first dedicated to Ss. Peter and Paul, and later re-dedicated as St. Augustine's monastery. His feast day is January 6.


Little is known of Peter's early life. He is thought to have been a native of Italy. He was member of the mission of forty monks led by St. Augustine that Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome, sent to Great Britain in the last years of the sixth century. The mission landed in Kent in 597 and soon made a convert of King Ethelbert of Kent. Ethelbert gave the mission the land that became the monastery of Ss. Peter and Paul, of which Peter was made the first abbot.

In late 600, Peter and Laurence were sent back to Rome by Augustine to report their successes in Kent and to request more missionaries. They returned to Kent in 601, with replies by Gregory to questions that Augustine had Peter convey to Gregory.

Peter died by drowning while traveling between Canterbury and Gaul. His death occurred in the English Channel in the bay of Ambleteuse near Boulogne. According to Bede he was buried hastily in an "unworthy place", but, after a mysterious light appeared over his grave every night, the local inhabitants realized Peter was a saint and exhumed his relics and re-interred them in Boulogne. The date of his death is uncertain. A range of probable years for his death from 605 to 611 is given in information by the fifteenth century chronicler Thomas of Elmham. However, Peter is recorded as being present at the Council of Paris held in 614. It is possible that Peter drowned when returning to England from the Paris council.