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Catholic Dictionary




Ruined abbey and shrine in County Somerset, in southwestern England, and one of the first centers of the faith in Celtic England. In 1184 the famous abbey reached the peak of its architectural glory. Now it is in ruins except for the abbot's kitchen, built in 1437, which today draws curious sightseers. St. Patrick is reported to have built the first permanent church there in 432. King Arthur and his queen are buried nearby; their tombs were recently discovered. In 943 or 944 King Edmund made St. Dunstan its abbot. From this time the abbey was organized according to the Benedictine Rule. There was a rich history of miracles at Glastonbury. In 1539 the strong Catholic enemies despoiled the entire property, stole the sapphire altar, which had been St. David's gift, and put to death Richard Whiting (1460-1539), the Benedictine abbot. He is now canonized.