The seal of the Society of Archbishop Justus

Justus, Fourth Archbishop of Canterbury

Justus, Saint (d. 627), fourth Archbishop of Canterbury, was sent in 601 from Rome by Pope Gregory along with Laurentius, Mellitus, and others to reinforce the Kentish mission. In 604 he was consecrated first bishop of the Diocese of Rochester by Augustine, and 28 April received from Æthelbert, king of Kent, a grant to his church of certain lands lying about Rochester. As a portion of these lands has always borne the name of Priestfield, it has been suggested that it is possible that Justus was not a monk (though this would of course be contrary to the belief of the Canterbury historians).

He helped Augustine in his ecclesiastical government (S Bonifacii Epistolæ, i.104,168), and after Augustine's death joined Archbishop Laurentius and Mellitus in writing to the Scottish bishops and abbots to urge them to conform to the Roman usages. On the relapse into idolatry which followed the accession of Eadbald in Kent, he fled with Mellitus into Gaul in 617, and remained there a year, until he was recalled to his bishopric by the king. He governed his diocese diligently, and received a letter of exhortation addressed to him and Archbishop Mellitus by Boniface V, who became Pope in 619.

On the death of Mellitus on 24 April 624 he succeeded to the See of Canterbury, and received a pall from Boniface with a letter referring to the gift as conveying the right of consecrating bishops; so it was probably after receiving it, though in the same year as his accession, that he consecrated Romanus to succeed him at Rochester. Another letter from Boniface to Justus giving the primacy of the whole English church to Canterbury (Gesta Pontificum, p.47) is doubtless spurious. On 21 July 625 he consecrated Paulinus bishop, to accompany Æthelburh to Northumbria. One or two further details given by Elmham can scarcely be considered historical. There are lives of Justus by Gervase, and by Goscelin, in manuscript in the Lambeth Library. None of them adds anything to Bede's account.

Justus died on 10 Nov 627, and was buried in St Peter's porch at St Augustine's, Canterbury.

[Society of Archbishop Justus]
This document last updated 21 August 2001. Comments to