The story I am going to tell you is true, but it might very well have been just another Canterbury tale. It is a story that connects in strange ways England and Byzantium. It started in medieval England, in the year 667 CE. The city of Canterbury was then one of the most prominent Anglo – Saxon cities in Britain. Its people had been converted from pagans to Christians just 2 generations before (in 597 CE, by Saint Augustine). The Episcopal See of the city though – founded by St. Augustine – was left vacant in that specific year. And that was serious, because the Canterbury See was (and still is) considered England’s primary See.
To fill the gap, the king of Kent sent emissaries to the Pope in Rome, asking him to appoint a new Archbishop to Canterbury. Back then not very many people were eligible for such a place – most of the people could not even read, let alone debate on religious matters. Not to mention that to the high ranked priests in Rome the idea of moving to a distant, misty and (still) barbaric land was not promising at all. With limited choices available Pope Vitalian’s mind went to certain monasteries in Italy run by Byzantine monks – the Byzantines considered then the most erudite scholars in Europe.
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