Christian faith was preached in Britain for the first time in the blessed shores of Kent by St. Augustine the Benedictine monk, commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great. This “Apostle to the English” became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 597 AD.
In God’s Providence, St. Augustine’s Abbey is being transformed into Divine Retreat Centre UK run by the Vincentian Fathers of the Marymatha Province, India.
Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate
St Augustines Abbey, St. Augustines Road
Ramsgate, Kent CT11 9PA
Phone: 01843 586904
Mobile: 0754 830 3824
St. Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597. He is considered the “Apostle to the English” and a founder of the English Church.
Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595 to lead a mission, usually known as the Gregorian mission, to Britain to Christianize King Æthelberht and his Kingdom of Kent from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism. Kent was probably chosen because Æthelberht had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Charibert I the King of Paris, who was expected to exert some influence over her husband. Before reaching Kent the missionaries had considered turning back but Gregory urged them on, and in 597 Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet and proceeded to Æthelberht’s main town of Canterbury.
King Æthelberht converted to Christianity and allowed the missionaries to preach freely, giving them land to found a monastery outside the city walls. Augustine was consecrated as a bishop and converted many of the king’s subjects, including thousands during a mass baptism on Christmas Day in 597. Pope Gregory sent more missionaries in 601, along with encouraging letters and gifts for the churches, although attempts to persuade the native Celtic bishops to submit to Augustine’s authority failed. Roman bishops were established at London and Rochester in 604, and a school was founded to train Anglo-Saxon priests and missionaries. Augustine also arranged the consecration of his successor, Laurence of Canterbury. The archbishop probably died in 604 and was soon revered as a Saint.
Origins of St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate.
St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate was one of the Benedictine monasteries in Great Britain forming the English Province of the international Benedictine Congregation of Subiaco. The Abbey was founded as a result of the invitation made by Bishop Thomas Grant, the first Bishop of Southwark, to the Italian abbot Dom Pietro Casaretto, to send monks from St Benedict’s own monastery at Subiaco to undertake a mission at Ramsgate. By 1856 arrangements between Bishop Grant and Abbot Casaretto were concluded and the first monk, Dom Wilfrid Alcock, arrived to take charge at the Ramsgate mission which had been made possible thanks to the building of a Gothic church by the famous Gothic Revivalist architect Augustus Welby Pugin, which was donated to the Diocese of Southwark before his premature death in 1852.
St. Augustine’s Cross near Cliffsend
In the years 1860-61, with the help of Mr Alfred Luck, a wealthy and devout benefactor, the monastery of St Augustine of Canterbury was built, the first Benedictine monastery to be built in England since the Reformation. Shortly afterwards a full monastic observance was established. The monastery gained independence from Subiaco in 1876, becoming a Priory in 1881 and was raised to the status of an Abbey by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1896. A school was established for in 1865, which grew to provide to a Catholic education for boys for well over 130 years, finally closing in 1995.
Divine Retreat Centre is located on the tranquil seaside shores of Ramsgate in Kent, to the south-east of London. You can travel to the centre using various modes of transport.
There are frequent trains operated by Southeastern Railway from London terminals: St Pancras International, London Victoria and Charing Cross to Ramsgate. Tickets can be purchased online on www.southeasternrailway.co.uk.
The centre is a 15-20 minute walk from the station, or alternatively, you can take a taxi or bus (please alight at St.Augustine’s Abbey).
National Express coaches journey from London Victoria to Ramsgate which takes three hours on average.
From London, the quickest route is via M2 with an average journey time of two hours.
Divine Retreat Centre – Ramsgate
St Augustines Abbey
St. Augustines Road
The Thanet Loop is the most regular service which can take you from the railway station to the harbourside. Other bus routes around Ramsgate includes Number 9, Number 33/34, Number 34X, Number 38, Number 39, Number 42, Number 87/88.