Today is the feast of St David of Wales and should serve as a reminder to all historically minded Anglicans that the Catholic Church was in the British Isles long before Gregory the Great thought to send Augustine to what was going to become England and eventually the United Kingdom. Why? Because St David's floriat was the sixth century which had all but ended when Augustine arrived in Kent. Nor should St David be the lone reminder. Any fairly complete book on the lives of the saints will be filled with the names of generally Celtic saints who preached the gospel, founded churches and monasteries, sang the offices and celebrated the eucharist long before the Roman mission arrived.
Why should this be important to us? Because it is another in the evidence that the claims of the See of Rome are utter nonsense. Real Catholic Christianity had reached the British Isles very early with some of the earliest fathers claiming that St Paul himself preached there. It was founded and it persisted but Gregory the Great knew nothing about it. But when the Venerable Bede came to write his classical book on English church history, he at least knew enough and cared enough about what actually happened to paint a fairly unflattering picture of the man whom Gregory had sent.
Rome eventually came to lord it over the English Church, but the British churchmen had adequate reminders of a day when the Church in the British Isles had not been subject to Rome. Indeed the greatest of them had an unfortunate habit of finding the behaviour of their Roman brethern intolerable. One need only read William Langland's The Vision of Piers the Plowman to know just how much this was so. Consequently the discarding of the Roman yoke was all but inevitable with the beginning of printing and a wider knowledge of Holy Scripture and the history of the Church.