Just who was St Paulinus?
Paulinus was a young Roman monk at St Andrew’s Monastery in Rome. In 601 he was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to help St Augustine with the second phase of his conversion of the people of Britain.
After his arrival, Paulinus’ mission was initially in Kent, centred on Canterbury. But when King Edwin of Northumbria married Ethelburga, a Christian Kentish Princess, Paulinus was instructed to accompany her to pagan Northumbria. He was consecrated Bishop of the Northumbrians in 625.
The opportunity of a northern mission had unexpectedly presented itself. Paulinus’ first task was to convert the pagan King Edwin, hoping this would lead to an agreement which would allow him to convert Edwin’s Northumbrian subjects.
His patience was finally rewarded when the king converted and supported Paulinus by creating the Bishopric and See of York, commanding that a stone church be built. Paulinus continued his mission throughout the north – travelling, instructing and baptising people throughout the area which is now Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Tyneside, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Wherever he went, he left his mark on the modern Church.
In recognition of Paulinus’ dedication to mission, the Pope gave him the Pallium of Archbishop of York. After the death of King Edwin, Paulinus accompanied the widowed queen back to the south, where he lived as Bishop of Rochester until his death on 10th October 644, which is now St Paulinus Day.