Family Service Item
St. Augustine's

May 24, 2009

Key :

instructions for congregation
movements during service
prayers and readings
sections of the service

Other information :

There are some notes on our production of the service.

A rough plan of the church is available.

A note on copyright.


Augustine comes to England

Pope Gregory sits on his throne.
Leader Our church is named after St Augustine of Canterbury.

We are going to act out some of the events in St Augustine's life.

St Augustine lived in Rome at the end of the sixth century.

Augustine comes up centre aisle turns and faces congregation.
Augustine Hello ! My name is Augustine. I live in Rome, and I am the Prior of St Andrew's Monastery. This is a very important monastery in Rome because it is Pope Gregory's Monastery.
Messenger comes running up centre aisle.
Messenger to Augustine Pope Gregory wants to see you.
Messenger returns to organ side by flowers then to back. Augustine goes and stands beside Pope Gregory.
Augustine ( bowing slightly to Gregory ) Your Holiness ?
Gregory Augustine, I want you to take a group of forty monks on a mission to Canterbury in South East England, which is still a pagan area.
Augustine Who ! me ? - I don't want to go to that awful country; can't someone else go ?
Gregory I believe it is your mission to go.
Augustine Well, if you insist, I suppose I'll have to go, but I don't want to go.
Monks come down organ aisle and join Augustine organ side of altar, by the "Rome" label.
Monk 1 This is a mad idea. I don't want to go.
Monk 2 I hate travelling.
Monk 3 England ! I hear it's a dreadful country. I want to stay here.
Augustine Yes ! It's a tough country. I'm not too keen on going either.

But we must do as the Pope says.

Leader They set off in June 596 with lots of grumbling.
Augustine and the monks muttering to each other go out through the gap on the organ side across the church on the congregation side of the altar rail and in to stand between lectern and altar by the "France" label, still grumbling.
Leader On the journey they heard all sorts of rumours about England. They definitely didn't want to go. By the time they reached France they had had enough so Augustine, leaving the other monks in an abbey in France, turned back to Rome, and had another interview with Pope Gregory.
Augustine goes back to Gregory along congregation side of altar rail to organ side through small gap and to Gregory. Other monks sit down.
Augustine to Gregory No, we just can't do it. We're too scared. We've heard such terrible tales about the English.
Gregory Yes, you can. See, I have written letters of introduction for you to take with you. I'm sure it will be all right. And here is a letter of encouragement to all the monks. ( Holding out two scrolls )
Leader The historian Bede records that the letter of encouragement began with these words :

"Since it is better not to begin good works than to have second thoughts and withdraw from those that are begun, you must, my dearest sons, zealously complete the good work you have begun..."

Augustine If you insist, we will trust ourselves to God. He will be our helper.
Augustine kneels in front of Gregory.
Gregory prays I send these men out in the name of Jesus to take Your message of salvation to the English people. May You bless them and keep them safe on their journey and help them to spread Your Word to the people of England.
Augustine stands up and returns to "France" by going out organ side along congregation side of altar rail and so back to "France".

As Augustine arrives back in "France"; Monks stand up.

Monk 1 Well, what happened ?
Monk 2 I guess we have to go on.
Monk 3 We'll have to wait for spring. It's too rough to sail now. I hope I'm not seasick.
Augustine Come on - it's time to go; may God keep us safe.
Monks Amen.
Augustine and the monks move out lectern side of altar rail, walk along congregation side to centre, walk up to altar in front of the "England" label.
Leader The group landed on the Isle of Thanet in the spring of 597.
King Ethelbert comes up centre aisle dressed in crown and cloak.
Leader King Ethelbert of Kent, whose wife was a Christian, went to meet them.
Augustine and the monks bow before King Ethelbert.
King Ethelbert to Augustine and the monks I promise you my protection in Kent. You will not be hurt.
Augustine and the monks Thank you.
Leader Once the English people found that the King was kind to Augustine, they were willing to listen to all he had to tell them, and many people became Christians.

Augustine would have been happy to remain in Canterbury, but Pope Gregory had other ideas and insisted Augustine sent out monks to other parts of England. Gradually the Christian faith spread beyond Kent. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury with twelve bishops under him.

Augustine died in 604 and is considered to be the founder of the church in southern England.

All return to their seats.

Those taking part :

Leader, Pope Gregory, Augustine, Messenger, Monks ( three speaking parts ), King Ethelbert