The pilgrim with the mouth of gold

Catherine Swift

Pope Gregory the Great is widely remembered as the man who sponsored the conversion of England through his decision to send St Augustine to Canterbury. The influence of his teaching on the royal provincial church of Munster, Emly in Co. Tipperary, and on the wider Irish church is less well known. Catherine Swift is lecturer in Irish Studies at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

As a small, sea-swept town on the Yorkshire coast, nestling behind a prominent headland, Whitby?s history of trade, travel and exploration stretches back to the remote origins of metal-working in these islands. At the dawn of the Bronze Age, jet from Whitby was exported east to the Continent, south to Avebury and Wessex and west up the Swaledale valley and across the Irish Sea to the royal centre of Tara. In the seventh century, Whitby was the site of a royal monastery, the burial place of Yorkshire kings and the settlement chosen for major clerical conclaves, fed through the hospitality of Abbess Hild. As the centre which produced the first known biography of the saint, it was also a northern focus for the commemoration of Pope Gregory the Great.

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