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St. Theodore
of Canterbury

(AD 602 - 690)

Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: AD 602
Died: 19th September AD 690


A native of Tarsus in Cilicia, Theodore was born about AD 602. Having studied in Athens, he visited Rome and, whilst there, was appointed by Pope Vitalian to the See of Canterbury, which had been vacant for four years. Theodore arrived in England in AD 669 and was well received everywhere. He was the first Archbishop whose authority the whole English Church was willing to acknowledge.

The aims which Theodore set before himself were the organization of the Church and the encouragement of learning. He therefore consecrated Bishops to fill the vacant Sees and subdivided the existing Dioceses.

Wilfrid, who at this time ruled all the Church north of the Humber, resisted the attempt to deprive him of any part of his Diocese; but although on his appeal to Rome, the papal decision was given in his favour, Theodore proceeded with the subdivision of the Northumbrian episcopate. Shortly before his death, he was reconciled to Wilfrid, who was restored to his See.

The diocesan system which Theodore sought to establish was accepted by a Synod of the united English Church held at Hertford in AD 673. Another Synod, held at Hatfield in 680, affirmed the adhesion of the English Church to the Catholic Faith.

The enlightened zeal of Theodore allowed learning to flourish in England. Under his direction, and with the able help of Hadrian and Benedict Biscop, seminaries were founded at many of the Monasteries. Theodore died in AD 690.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).

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