Bede Hist. eccl. gent. angl. II, 18 tells how at the death of Justus, once bishop of Hrofescaestir Rochester and later archbishop of Doruvernis Canterbury, the archbishop of Eboracum York Paulinus elected Honorius as his successor. The pope of the same name ratified the election by sending the pallium, with a letter quite valuable for historians confirming that at the death of one of the archbishops of the two mentioned sees, the other archbishop had the faculty of appointing the successor without having to make the long and arduous trip to Rome. Still according to Bede III, 20, however, at Archbishop Honorius’s death 30 September 653 the practice, intended to equate the episcopal dignity of the two principal English sees, failed: after 18 months of vacancy, Ithamar, bishop of Hrofescaestir, elected Deusdedit original Celtic name: Frithbona as the 6th archbishop of Canterbury.

We know very little of Deusdedit’s life and pastoral activity, but fortunately Bede stressed his Saxon origin he was a native of Wessex allowing us to recognize in him the first in a long line of AngloSaxon bishops. He was ordained archbishop 26 March 655 and still according to Bede ruled his diocese for 9 years, 4 months and 2 days. At Ithamar’s death 656, Deusdedit consecrated Damian, a southern Saxon, as his successor on the see of Hrofescaestir; this is Deusdedit’s only official act that we are certain of: attribution of the foundation of monasteries to him is unproven.

He died on 14 July 664 the same day as Earconbert, king of Kent and son of Eadbald and was buried in the portico of St. Peter’s church near the tomb of the first bishop, St. Augustine. According to circumstantial evidence from Bede IV, 1, his see remained vacant for a long period, and to correct this dangerous situation Egbert, king of Kent and son of Earconbert, and Oswiu, sovereign of Northumbria, sent the priest Wighard a highly esteemed English religious thought capable of remedying the precariousness and organizational gaps of the English churches to Rome for the purpose of having him ordained archbishop by Pope Vitalian. He died of plague at Rome, however, which gave the pope the opportunity of sending a person of his own choosing to that hard-to-manage country an outsider not preconditioned by the difficult environment. After a long search, the choice fell to the Cilician monk Theodore, a native of Tarsus, whose episcopal activity as Deusdedit’s successor proved decisive for the radical and definitive reorganization of the churches of England.

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