St Mary's Uttoxeter

Archbishops of Canterbury

25 Nov 2022 • Articles

Just ten years ago it was announced that the Right Reverend Justin Welby would move from being the Bishop of Durham to be enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, taking up the senior position in the Church of England.

Over 1400 years ago Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine to England from Rome to teach the King of Kent about Jesus and to establish Christianity here. In 597 AD Augustine was consecrated as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and the courage of Augustine and his companions spread the Christian faith across England.

One of my favourite stained glass windows in the church where I was vicar until I retired portrayed another brave Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. King Henry II persuaded St. Thomas to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. When Thomas had been working as Henry's chancellor he had felt free to think about ordinary pleasures, pleasing Henry and pleasing himself rather than serving God. Then Thomas found himself wearing the archbishop's robes and mitre, and he realised that the crosier, the shepherd's crook which every bishop carries, indicated new tasks which his conscience could not avoid. Thomas bravely defended the Church and the clergy when Henry's laws threatened to stop them doing their duty. Henry was angry, and four royal knights rushed to Canterbury Cathedral where they killed Thomas in front of the high altar. The window I remember shows St. Thomas kneeling at Mass, with Jesus blessing him in a vision and showing his own scars.

In your prayers, ask God to bless our bishops and archbishops,