Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Adrian of Canterbury

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 1
St. Adrian of Canterbury

by Michael Ott


An African by birth, died 710. He became Abbot of Nerida, a Benedictine monastery near Naples, when he was very young. Pope Vitalian intended to appoint him Archbishop of Canterbury to succeed St. Deusdedit, who had died in 664, but Adrian considered himself unworthy of so great a dignity, and begged the Pope to appoint Theodore, a Greek monk, in his place. The Pope yielded, on condition that Adrian should accompany Theodore to England and be his adviser in the administration of the Diocese of Canterbury. They left Rome in 668, but Adrian was detained in France by Ebroin, the Mayor of the Palace who suspected that he had a secret mission from the Eastern Emperor, Constans II, to the English kings. After two years Ebroin found that his suspicion had been groundless and allowed Adrian to proceed to England. Immediately upon his arrival in England, Archbishop Theodore appointed him Abbot of St. Peter in Canterbury, a monastery which had been founded by St. Augustine, the apostle of England, and became afterwards known as St. Austin's. Adrian accompanied Theodore on his apostolic visitations of England and by his prudent advice and co-operation assisted the Archbishop in the great work of unifying the customs and practices of the Anglo-Saxon Church with those of the Church of Rome. Adrian was well versed in all the branches of ecclesiastical and profane learning. Under his direction the School of Canterbury became the centre of English learning. He established numerous other schools in various parts of England. In these schools of Adrian were educated many of the saints, scholars, and missionaries, who during the next century rekindled the waning light of faith and learning in France and Germany. After spending thirty-nine years in England Adrian died in the year 710 and was buried at Canterbury. His feast is celebrated 9 January, the day of his death.

MICHAEL OTT