Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Adrian, Abbot at Canterbury

Article

Divine Providence conducted this holy man to Britain, in order to make him an instructor of innumerable saints. Adrian was an African by birth, and was abbot of Nerida, not far from Naples, when Pope Vitalian, upon the death of Saint Deusdedit the archbishop of Canterbury, judged him, for his skill in sacred learning, and experience in the paths of true interior virtue, to be of all others the most proper person to be the doctor of a nation, zealous in the pursuit of virtue; but as yet ignorant in the sciences, and in the canons of the church. The humble servant of God found means to decline that dignity, by recommending Saint Theodorus as most capable, but refused not to share in the laborious part of the ministry. The pope therefore, enjoined him to be the companion, assistant, and adviser of the apostolic archbishop, which charge Adrian willingly took upon himself. In travelling through France with Saint Theodorus he was stopped by Ebroin, the jealous mayor of the palace, who feared lest the emperor of the East had given these two persons, who were his born subjects, some commission in favour of his pretentions to the western kingdoms. Adrian stayed a long time in France, at Meaux, and in other places, before he was allowed to pursue his journey. Saint Theodorus established him abbot of the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul, afterward called Saint Austin, near Canterbury, where he taught the learned languages and the sciences, and principally the precepts and maxims of our divine religion. He had illustrated this island by his heavenly doctrine, and the bright example of his virtues, for the space of thirty-nine years, when he departed to our Lord on the 9th of January, in the year 710. His tomb was famed for miracles, as we are assured by Jocelin the Monk, quoted by William of Malmesbury and Capgrave; and his name is inserted in the English calendars.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Adrian, Abbot at Canterbury”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 8 January 2013. Web. 23 August 2014. <>