The city in southeastern England that became the ecclesiastical center for England and, eventually, the Anglican Communion. The Benedictine monk Augustine founded the church in Canterbury on his mission from Rome in 597. From there Christianity spread throughout England. Canterbury has had a preeminence from the beginning of the English church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is "Primate of All England" and head of the Church of England. The churches of the Anglican Communion may be defined as the churches in communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury likewise holds a position of honor in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury convenes the bishops when they gather, especially at the Lambeth Conferences, and sits with them as "greatest among equals." Canterbury holds a position of honor and preeminence in the Anglican Communion but holds no official authority over the churches of the communion or its individual members. This may be contrasted with the Roman Catholic understanding of papal authority and the authority of the church.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.