Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Birinus, First Bishop of Dorcester, Confessor

stained glass window fof Saint Birinus, Dorchester Abbey; photographed by Father Lawrence Lew, OP; swiped off his flickr site and used with permissionArticle

Birinus, a priest of Rome, addressed himself to Pope Honorius for leave to preach the gospel to the idolaters in Britain. The pope commended his zeal, and caused him to be ordained bishop. The apostolic missionary landed in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, and, with many others, baptized King Cynegils, who began to reign in 611, and filled the throne thirty-one years, being the sixth from Cerdic, who founded that kingdom in 519. Birinus fixed his see at Dercis, now at Dorchester, on the Thames, in Oxfordshire, upon the edge of Berkshire: he built and consecrated many churches, gained many souls to God, and departing to him was buried in the same city, about the year 650. His remains were translated to Winchester by Bishop Hedda, and there laid in the church of Saints Peter and Paul. Of the painted windows in Dorchester church which have escaped the fury of the plunderers, Mr. Hearne, in his notes on William of Newborough, makes this remark: “I know of no truly religious person but what is affected with what now remains of the historical painting in Dorchester windows, relating to Birinus’s voyage thither, and his converting the heathens.” See on Saint Birinus, Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle; Bede and Neve’s Fasti Anglicani.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2018. Web. 23 September 2020. <>