Today is the feast day of St. Augustine of Canterbury, who brought Christianity to the British Isles. And you are probably not surprised I have a book suggestion for this great feast. I’m actually putting lots of great fiction for summer reading into my next column, so consider this an early selection.
Augustine Came to Kent is a great young adult novel, by Barbara Willard, published by the terrific publisher Bethlehem Books. The book follows St. Augustine’s travel to England, and what happens to him there. The story is told through the lives of two local (fictional) children, Fritha and Rolf. It’s an exciting story with lots of historical detail.
Our family enjoyed this book greatly when we read it as a family read-aloud several years ago, but what truly brought this book to life and history to life, was a day trip to Canterbury last year when our family was in England. We saw several of the sites that would have been known to St. Augustine, and learned even more about this great saint.
Here is a view inside St. Martin’s Church. The walls actually pre-date the Christian church, having once been a Roman shrine, showing how early Christians used the sacred spaces of pagans, “Christianizing” them. The book Augustine Came to Kent has a moving scene of King Ethelbert’s baptism in this church.
Here is a modern statue of St. Bertha, Ethelbert’s queen, who was herself Christian (and a French transplant to England). She paved the way for St. Augustine to be welcomed to Kent and bring the Faith to this new land.
Here is a view of the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey.
Have you read Augustine Came to Kent? Do you have any book suggestions about St. Augustine, or just other good summer reading?
UPDATED: My husband asked if I had shared a photo of Canterbury Cathedral, and I knew exactly the one he meant. It was taken on his excellent camera by his excellent eye, as he takes most of the “great photos” in our family. There was a bit of a rainshower, and afterwards a rainbow: