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At the end of the pre-Viking period of Anglo-Saxon history, before the unified kingdom of the English was forged by Alfred and his heirs, four kingdoms remained standing. These were Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex (which by then included Kent). Later these former kingdoms would possess Ealdormen in the unified kingdom up to the Conquest. These Kingdoms broadly correspond to the Provinces of England in the present hierarchy of the Church. Interestingly, each of the Archbishops today corresponds to a former Metropolitan See prior to the Völkerwanderung and the Reformation.  London seems to have been a metropolitan see prior to the Anglo-Saxons and it was here that St Gregory intended to re-establish the principle see of Southern England. Instead, as the foremost Anglo-Saxon ruler of the day was the king of Kent and St Augustine died in Canterbury, a new Metropolitan See of Canterbury was established. Westminster and Southwark succeed to these two sees. York too was almost certainly a Metropolitan See under the Romans and Gregory intended its restoration by his mission. York was restored by St Paulinus and became a Metropolitan See once again under Ecgbert in the eighth century. In 787 King Offa of Mercia managed through flattery and pressure to have Lichfield, the See of St Chad, elevated to a Archdiocese at Canterbury’s expense creating a province extending from the Thames to the Humber. The innovation lasted a mere sixteen years. Nevertheless, Birmingham now succeeds to the Mercian part of the fleeting jurisdiction of Lichfield and the relics of St Chad repose in Birmingham Cathedral. These seem very dark times and perhaps only persecution and glorious martyrdom await the faithful before the end, but there may be some reason to hope that the visions of St Paul of the Cross, Blessed Dominic, St John Vianney and St John Bosco could be fulfilled and to plan for a third spring. So here is a nice video of Lichfield Cathedral for Brummie Catholics to meditate upon for future reference (with a nice non-conformist hymn to remind us that the English have always instinctively rejected the Anglican abomination).

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