BIRINUS, SAINT: First bishop of the West Saxons; d. Dec. 3, 650. He was a Benedictine monk at Rome and was given a missionary commission by Pope Honorius I. After being consecrated bishop at Genoa by Asterius, archbishop of Milan, he landed in Wessex about 634. He baptized its king, Cynegils, in 635, Oswald of Northumbria standing as sponsor. He fixed his see at Dorchester (now a small village, 8 m. s.e. of Oxford), and gained influence in Wessex and Mercia. Cwichelm, the son of Cynegils, was baptized in 636; Cuthred, Cwichelm's son, in 639; Cenwalh, the brother and successor of Cynegils, in 646.
Bibliography: Bede, Hist. eccl., iii, 7.