Born c. 584; died at Rochester, England, 644. In 601, Saint Paulinus was sent as a missionary from Rome to England by Pope Saint Gregory I (f.d. September 3) with Saints Mellitus (f.d. April 24) and Justus (f.d. November 10). There they assisted Saint Augustine (f.d. May 27) by evangelising in Kent for 24 years.
He was consecrated bishop of York in 625 by Justus, then accompanied Saint Ethelburga (f.d. April 5), daughter of King Ethelbert of Kent, to Northumbria as her chaplain when she married Edwin of Northumbria. Saint Bede tells us that two years later (627) Paulinus baptized King Saint Edwin (f.d. October 12) on Easter Eve in York, bringing Christianity to Northumbria. (A much less reliable source, the Welsh Nennius, ascribes Edwin’s baptism to a Welsh priest.) Paulinus and his assistants baptized thousands, who followed their king into Christianity.
Saint Paulinus, described as a tall, dark man, “of venerable and awe-inspiring appearance,” followed up Edwin’s baptism with a series of missionary journeys over a wide area. He reached as far north as Lincoln. During the last year’s of Edwin’s reign, there was such peace and order in his dominions that a proverb arose: A woman could carry her new-born baby across the island from sea to sea and suffer no harm (Bede). But the peace did not last for long.
Pope Saint Honorius I (f.d. September 30) recognised Paulinus as archbishop of York, but before the letter arrived the first missionary efforts in Northumbria had ended. When Edwin was slain by the pagan Mercian Cadwallon at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633, Northumbria reverted to paganism. Paulinus returned to Kent by sea with Ethelburga, her two children, and Edwin’s grandson Osfrid. He left his deacon James to conduct the missionary efforts to the best of his ability in difficult circumstances. Paulinus was named administrator of the vacant see of Rochester, administered it for 10 years (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia).
Generally, Paulinus is depicted as an archbishop baptizing King Saint Edwin (Roeder).
Death and veneration
Paulinus died on 10 October 644 at Rochester,[b] where he was buried in the sacristy of the church. His successor at Rochester was Ithamar, the first Englishman consecrated to a Gregorian missionary see. After Paulinus’ death, Paulinus was revered as a saint, with a feast day on 10 October. When a new church was constructed at Rochester in the 1080s his relics, or remains, were translated (ritually moved) to a new shrine. There also were shrines to Paulinus at Canterbury, and at least five churches were dedicated to him. Although Rochester held some of Paulinus’ relics, the promotion of his cult there appears to have occurred after the Norman Conquest. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Orthodox Church.
Paulinus’ missionary efforts are difficult to evaluate. Bede implies that the mission in Northumbria was successful, but there is little supporting evidence, and it is more likely that Paulinus’ missionary efforts there were relatively ineffectual. Although Osric, one of Edwin’s successors, was converted to Christianity by Paulinus, he returned to paganism after Edwin’s death. Hilda, however, remained a Christian, and eventually went on to become abbess of the influential Whitby Abbey. Northumbria’s conversion to Christianity was mainly achieved by Irish missionaries brought into the region by Edwin’s eventual successor, Oswald.
Source: Death and veneration
- Celtic and Old English Saints – 10 October . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 10 October . [ONLINE] Available at: http://celticsaints.org/2016/1010a.html. [Accessed 12 October 2016]
- Wikipedia. 2016. Paulinus of York – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulinus_of_York#Death_and_veneration. [Accessed 12 October 2016].
- Image: Wikipedia. 2016. Portal:Yorkshire/Selected biography/3 – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Yorkshire/Selected_biography/3#/media/File:Paulinusofyork.jpg. [Accessed 12 October 2016].