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This week in Christian history: Wesleyan Church founded, English king converts

King Ethelbert converts to Christianity – June 2, 597

Ethelbert
Ethelbert (560-616), also rendered Æthelbert or Aethelbert, an English monarch whose conversion to Christianity inspired thousands of Britons to do the same. |

This week marks the anniversary of when English King Ethelbert, whose name has also been rendered Æthelbert, Aethelberht or Aethelbert, converted to Christianity.

The ruler of Kent and formerly a worshiper of the Norse god Odin, Ethelbert was inspired to be baptized by the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury.

“His baptism … had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months,” noted the Catholic Encyclopedia.

“But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism.”

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