St. Birinus (c. AD 600-649) - Bishop of Wessex AD 634-649

St. Birinus in Stained Glass Statue of St. Birinus St. Birinus giving a Blessing St. Birinus baptising King Cynegils of Wessex

St. Birinus is the often forgotten evangelist of Saxon Wessex. He was sent over to England by the Pope to convert the pagan Mercians; but, landing on the Hampshire coast, he found the Kingdom of Wessex to be just as lacking in Christianity. He then had to travel all the way up to North Berkshire to seek an audience with the local king, Cynegils. The usual inspired preached led to the conversion of the King and his people, although the youthful heir to the throne took a little longer. He was given the old Roman town of Dorchester-on-Thames in which to build his cathedral and it was there that he died and was buried. His body was later, apparently, transferred to Winchester Cathedral, but the monks of Dorchester (by that time an Abbey) continued to show off his shrine to gullible pilgrims.

For more details of St. Birinus' life, take a look at our Early British Kingdoms website.

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