Cornwall, Cornish Saints
Cornwall has had more than its fair share of saints. It has been said that
Cornwall boasts more saints than were ever enthroned in heaven. For about a
hundred years in the 5th and 6th centuries Celtic missionaries arrived in numbers
from Wales and Ireland, settled on the shores of Cornwall, and began converting
small local groups of people to Christianity. Most of these missionaries established
a cell or church near sites that were already in use for religion - places like
holy wells, springs, standing stones, shrines. Although many of these men were
never officially designated saints by the church in later years, their names
do continue to live on with the the designation saint in over 200 old Cornish
churches. Legend and reality became confused in the telling of the stories.
various saints were credited with arriving floating on such diverse craft as
a millstone, a barrel or a stone alter. Many were reported to have embarked
on stone throwing contest with local Cornish giants, which the saints invariably
won thanks to divine intervention. Many have also left their names to the present
day in town names like St Austell or St German
- St Brychan
- Said to have arrived from Wales with 3 wives, 12 sons and 12 daughters (including
Endillion, Issey, Kew, Mabyn, Minver and Teath, who all became saints themselves)
- St Budoc
- Arrived in Cornwall floating in a barrel.
- St Cleer
- St. Cleer was an Englishman who came to Cornwall in the 8 th or 9 th century.
He preached and built a church on the edge of Bodmin moor - today's village
of St. Cleer. The village also has a holy well and two ancient Celtic crosses.
- Saint Endelienta
- Saint Endelienta was a daughter of King Brychan, who settled in Saint Endellion
and taught the Christian faith.Two nearby wells are named after her.
- St Fingar
- Arrived from Ireland with his brothers St Breaca, St Euny and St Erc. His
sister, Ia, arrived separately floating on an ivy leaf.
- St Germanus
- St. Germanus was elected Bishop of Auxerie, France, in 4l8 CE at the time
that the Roman Empire was falling apart. He was twice sent to Britain to argue
against the false teachings of Pelagius. On his second visit there was an
attack by a group of pagan raiders, he encouraged the defenders to shout 'Alleluia'
loudly. The attackers thought they were out numbered and ran away. St. Germanus
taught St. Patrick (Patron Saint of Ireland) and founded a monastery and church
at St. Germans, which came to serve as Cornwall's cathedral for many years.
- St Gundred
- A lady saint, whose father was a leper. She is said to have lived in the
chapel on top of Roche Rock, and
tended to her sick father. The ruined chapel of St. Michael stands on the
edge of china clay country at Roche,near St. Austell and is easily accessible
by means of a steel ladder screwed to the rock face.
- St Ia
- Founder of the town of St Ives. She is said to have sailed from Ireland
floating on a leaf. She was of noble birth. It is probable that the leaf in
question was a coracle, the Irish round hide craft, that local Cornish people
would not have seen before, and could have thought to have been a giant leaf.
- St Issy
- St. Issey was one of the children of King Brychan - his church is between
Wadebridge and Padstow. Mevagissey is also named after St. Issey.
- St Keverne and St Just
- Gained a reputation for being aggressive rivals
- St Levan
- Founded the church of St Levan near Lands End. After he had been fishing
he rested on a rock near the church, and before he died he is said to have
split the rock with his fist, leaving the prophecy that if a pack horse with
panniers could ever be ridden through the split, then the world would end.
Providentially the split in the rock has not become wide enough for this to
- St Neot
- Believed to have been very small, almost a pigmy. Some stories put him at
only 15 inches tall. He used to spend the day praying in his holy well, immersed
in water right up to his neck. The miracles that he achieved with birds and
animals are portrayed in the stained glass windows of the St Neots Parish
- St Mawes
- Revered in Brittany as well as Cornwall, he is thought to be the tenth son
of an Irish King. It is possible that it is the same derivation as St Malo.There
is said to be a memorial to him in Falmouth harbour. The story goes the St
Mawes was sitting in his chair contemplating the world, when a noisy seal
disturbed him, he picked up a large rock threw it at the seal, missed, but
the rock still remains where it fell, wedged on top of the Black Rocks in
- St Minver
- Saint Minver was another daughter of King Brychan. King Brychan's twenty
four children started churches throughout Cornwall, England and Wales. Her
hermitage, chapel and holy well were at Tredizzick, not far from the present
church and town of Saint Minver. One of the popular stories about Saint Minver
says that the devil attacked her when she was combing her hair. She threw
the comb at him and he ran away.
- St Piran
- Said to have arrived in Cornwall floating on a millstone. Apparently his
original community were jealous of his powers of healing and carrying out
miracles. They had tied a millstone round his neck and thrown him off a cliff
- luckily there was divine intervention and the millstone was transformed
into something that floated, so thus he arrived in Cornwall. he landed at
Perran Beach, to which he gave his name.He became the patron saint of tinners,
perhaps because he was said to have a taste for the bottle.He built a chapel
in Penhale sands, and lead a full life, dying at the age of 206. The chapel
was unearth from the sands in the 19th century, and the skeleton of very tall
man discovered 9perhaps the saints). the chapel was reburied to protect it
- St Petroc
- He founded Padstow, originally Petrocstow.Greeted by a hostile crown when
he landed from Wales, who refused to give him a drink of water, Petroc merely
tapped the ground with is staff, and immediately a spring of fresh water appeared.
The locals were immediately converted to followers.His bones were put into
an ivory casket and housed in Bodmin Church. They were stolen in 1994 but
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