Christianity had been present in the British Isles for at least three centuries before St Augustine’s Vatican-sponsored mission to Christianise the kingdom of Kent in AD 597, as evidenced by Patrick and David (the patron saints of Ireland and Wales who lived in the late 5th and early 6th century), and Alban, martyred for his beliefs during the third century.
- Who was Saint Patrick?
- St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury
- What is the oldest church in England?
- A brief history of England
Archaeology has also demonstrated a small but significant presence in Roman Britain, one confirmed by Christian motifs scratched on metal objects, painted on wall plaster and prominently displayed in floors. An example of the latter is the portrait of a man in a mosaic from the 4th century villa at Hinton St Mary in Dorset, one of the earliest depictions of Christ known from anywhere within the Roman Empire.