The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation

By Bede | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
HOW THE WEST SAXONS RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD BY THE
PREACHING OF BIRINUS; AND OF HIS SUCCESSORS, AGILBERT
AND LEUTHERIUS.

At that time, the West Saxons, formerly called Gevissæ, in the reign of Cynegilsus, embraced the faith of Christ, at the preaching of Bishop Birinus, who came into Britain by the advice of Pope Honorius; having promised in his presence that he would sow the seed of the holy faith in the inner parts beyond the dominions of the English, where no other teacher had been before him. Hereupon he received episcopal consecration from Asterius, Bishop of Genoa; but on his arrival in Britain, he first entered the nation of the Gevisseans, and finding all there most confirmed Pagans, he thought it better to preach the word of God there, than to proceed further to seek for others to preach to. Now, as he preached in the aforesaid provinice, it happened that the king himself, having been catechised, was baptized together with his people, and Oswald, the most holy and victorious king of the Northumbrians, being present, received him as he came forth from baptism, and by an alliance most pleasing and acceptable to God, first adopted him, thus regenerated, for his son, and then took his daughter in marriage. The two kings gave to the bishop the city called Dorcic, there to settle his episcopal see; where having built and consecrated churches, and by his labour called many to the Lord, he departed this life, and was buried in the same city; but many years after, when Hedde was bishop, he was translated thence to the city of Winchester, and laid in the church of the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul.

A. D. 635.

The king also dying, his son Coinwalch succeeded him in

-136-

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