In the year 590, much against his will, Abbot Gregory was unanimously elected Pope. Although this enormous responsibility as sole Patriarch for the Western part of the Empire daunted him, he did not forget his resolve to send missionaries to the inhabitants of distant Britannia. In September 595 he wrote a letter to a certain priest in Gaul, Candidus, instructing him to buy English slaves, aged 17–18, and to give them over to the care of a monastery.  Gregory clearly wished that clergy, natives of the country, be prepared for that mission. But why did he do this in 595?