The most favourable circumstance was that the dangers Implicit In the situation were fully recognized In England. In this crisis Oswiu of Northumbria and Egbert king of Kent had jointly chosen Wighard to succeed Deusdedit at Canterbury and sent him to Rome for con­ secration. When news reached them that Wighard had died of the

The Consolidation of the Church 89

plague they turned directly for help to Pope Vitalian, leaving the choice of a suitable archbishop in his hands. Despite other pressing problems Vitalian faced up to the difficult task of finding an arch­ bishop for a Church until recently torn by dissension and subse­ quently weakened by a succession of catastrophes. He needed a man who, by the strength of his personality could influence kings and direct the churchmen subject to him; capable of decision and firm­ ness yet able to implement the decisions of W hitby with such modera­ tion as would ensure their willing acceptance by all. The success of his nominee would depend on his ability alone, for Rome could not guarantee continued support.