Birinus (DNB00)

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BIRINUS, Saint (d. 650), bishop of Dorchester, was a Benedictine monk of Rome, who, receiving a mission from Pope Honorius to visit Britain, landed in Wessex in 634, having first received episcopal consecration at the hands of Asterius, bishop of Genoa. Preaching the gospel to the heathen people he succeeded in converting them to christianity, and in 635 baptised Cynegils, king of Wessex, Oswald, king of Northumbria, standing sponsor. Then was founded the see of Dorchester, Birinus being the first bishop settled at Dorcic or Dorchester, Oxfordshire, a city conferred upon him by the two kings. After many churches had been built and consecrated and many peoples called to the Lord by his pious labour (Bædæ, H. E. iii. 7), Birinus died and was buried at Dorchester in the year 650, his hody being afterwards removed to Winchester, and subsequently enshrined by Bishop Æthelwold (963-84). The influence obtained by Birinus, not only in Wessex but also in the neighbouring kingdom of Mercia, is indicated by the references made in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to the baptism by him of different princes.

[Haddon and Stubbs. Councils, vol. iii. 1871, p. 90 (quoting Breda and the A.-Saxon Chronicle); Rudborne's Hist. Major Winton. in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, pt. i. 1691. p. 190: Kennett's Parochial Antiquities, Oxford, 1818, i. sqq., see also, for Birinus's Life as a Saint, Hardy’s Catalogue of Materials for English History (Rolls Series), vol. i. 1862, p. 236.]

E. M. T.