Letter: An angle on angels

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your correspondent Eve Langford (Letters, 3 August) is mistaken in her assertion that Augustine referred to the blond slave boys as angels. The traditional version is that while still a deacon, the future Pope Gregory I was attracted by the fair faces of some boys from Deira exposed for sale in the Roman slave market. He was told that the children were Angles, to which he replied: 'Non Angli sed angeli' (not Angles but angels). He inquired further the name of their king, which was Aella, and continuing to play upon words replied, 'Alleluia shall be sung in the land of Aella'. After he became Pope in AD 590, Gregory sent Augustine to England as the leader of a band of missionaries. The story is told in Bede's A History of the English Church and People.

Yours faithfully,

ALEC ELLIS

Calderstones, Liverpool

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