Queen Bertha of Kent
Founder of the First Christian Church in Canterbury
539 – 612 A.D.
This noted woman was the daughter of Cherebert, king of Paris. She married Ethelbert, king of Kent, who succeeded to the throne about the year 560. Ethelbert was a pagan in religion, but Bertha was a Christian, and in the marriage treaty she stipulated for the free exercise of her religion, and took with her a French bishop. By her influence of Christianity was introduced into England; for so exemplary were her life and conduct that she inspired the king and his court with a high respect for her personally and likewise for the religion by which she was influenced. The pope, taking advantage of this, sent forty monks, among whom was St. Augustine, to preach the gospel and further the work of Christianization [sic]. Under the protection of the queen they soon found means of communication with the king, who finally submitted to a public baptism.
Christianity proved the means of promoting knowledge and civilization in England, and this convert king enacted a body of laws which was the first written code promulgated by the northern conquerors. Thus largely to the influence of redeeming England from paganism; and moreover to her belongs and the glory of planting the first Christian church in Canterbury. She was later canonized by the church.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.