The arrival of St Augustine in England from Rome in 597 was an event of profound significance, for it marked the beginnings of relations between Rome and Canterbury. To later generations this came to mean relations between the papacy in its universal role, hence the throne of St Peter, and the metropolitical see of Canterbury and the cathedral priory of Christ Church, for the chair of St Augustine was the seat of both a metropolitan and an abbot. The archiepiscopal see and the cathedral priory were inextricably bound in a unique way.
Relations with Rome had always been particularly close, both between the archbishops and the pope and between the convent and the pope. The cathedral church of Canterbury was dedicated to the Saviour (Christ Church) as was the papal cathedral of the Lateran. Gregory had sent the pallium to Augustine in sign of his metropolitan rank. There had been correspondence with Rome from the first. In Eadmer's account of the old Anglo-Saxon church, it was built in the Roman fashion, as Bede testifies, imitating the church of the blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, in which the most sacred relics in the whole world are venerated. Even more precisely, the confessio of St Peter was copied at Canterbury. As Eadmer says, ‘From the choir of the singers one went up to the two altars (of Christ and of St Wilfrid) by some steps, since there was a crypt underneath, what the Romans call a confessio, built like the confessio of St Peter.’ (Eadmer had both visited Rome in 1099 and witnessed the fire that destroyed the old cathedral some thirty years before in 1067.) And there, in the confessio, Eadmer goes on to say, Alfege had put the head of St Swithun and there were many other relics. The confessio in St Peter's had been constructed by Pope Gregory the Great and contained the body of the prince of the Apostles and it was in a niche here that the pallia were put before the ceremony of the vesting, close to the body of St Peter. There may be, too, another influence from Rome and old St Peter's on the cathedral at Canterbury. The spiral columns in St Anselm's crypt at Canterbury, which survived the later fire of 1174, and are still standing, were possibly modelled on those that supported St Peter's shrine. These twisted columns were believed to have been brought to Rome from the Temple of Solomon. At the end of the sixth century, possibly due to Gregory the Great, they were arranged to form an iconostasis-like screen before the apostle's shrine. Pope Gregory III in the eighth century had added an outer screen of six similar columns, the present of the Byzantine Exarch, of which five still survive. They are practically the only relics of the old basilica to have been preserved in the new Renaissance St Peter's.