Cornwall - Land of Saints

The Saints of Cornwall

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Saint Symphorian
This is by no means a comprehensive listing of all the Saints of Cornwall. If you look at a map you'll se there are quite a few saints' names associated with towns and villages throughout Cornwall. For the time being here are a few, we will endevaour to continue adding information as and Wenna(!).

Saint Adwen (Advent)

Adwen is said to have been one of King Brychan's 24 sons and daughters all of whom went on to found churches throughout the celtic lands. She is often put forward as a Cornish St Valentine, patron saint of sweethearts.

The village of Advent near Camelford takes its name from Adwen.

Saint Allen

The town of St Allen near Truro derives its name from this celtic saint who is possibly the same who became bishop of Quimper in Brittany. Alan is a derivative of Allen and a popular celtic name

Saint Anta

Lelant, between Hayle and St Ives gets its name from this saint.The village was known as Lanata - Church site of Anta.

It is said she had a chapel on the rocks at the entrance to Hayle River which is possibly the site known as Chapel Anjou. The main church in Lelant is St Uny

Saint Austell (Austol)

Austell is said to have been brought into christianity by his friend (and Saint) Mewan who became his godfather when he was baptised. They were both ordained and lived in a monastery in Brittany along with Saint Samson.

It was with St Samson that the two friends founded the adjacent parishes of St Mewan and St Austell with the latter growing into one of the largest towns in Cornwall. Legend states Mewan predicted he would die first, which he did, and Austell followed him by only a week.

Saint Breaca

The village of Breage near Helston is named after this saint. Originally called St Breock-in-Kirrier (Kerrier), St Breaca or St Briack all of which are derived from Breaca.

Saint Breaca was a disciple of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid. It is said she came from Ireland with her brother Germoe and several other companions around 460 AD. She is said to have landed at Reyver on the eastern bank of the river Hayle in the hundredth of Penrith where she led a solitary life in great sanctity and was honored with a church famous for pilgrimages and miracles.

Saint Breward

A celtic saint with a village and church on the fringes of Bodmin Moor named after him. Also known to have travelled in Brittany and The Channel Islands where place names Branwalder, Brolarde amd Brelade are probably derived.

Saint Brioc

Originally from Dyfed in western Wales. St Breock near Wadebridge is named after him.

Saint Brychan

King Brychan is said to have had 24 sons and daughters who all went on to found churches. These include St Adwen

Saint Budoc

It is claimed that St Budoc was an Irish hermit who settled in Budock, near Falmouth.
Legend says he was the son of Azenor King of Brittany. Azenor was supposedly exiled in a cask, and Budoc was born at sea.

Saint Buryan (Buriana, Berriona, Beryan)

Another 6th century female saint who came over from Ireland. The town of St Buryan in West Penwith bears her name and has an interesting and once important church dating back to King Athelstan who built it to house her relics. The town forms the christian hub of the far west of Cornwall with it once having a college for canons.

One story associated with Buryan is she cured the son of King Gerent of paralysis through her prayers.

Veryan near Truro takes its name from Buryan and it is no coincidence it is located near Gerrans Bay (direved from Gerent)

Saint Constantine

Saint Cury

St. Cury (aka Corentin, Corantyn or Corentinus) died round about the year 490. He was the first Bishop of Cornouaille, now known as Quimper, in Brittany - his relics can be found here. His cult spread throughout S. W. England, where he was known as St. Cury.
He was first mentioned in the 9th Century as a hermit living by a stream containing a miraculous fish from which he was able to take a slice each day for his meal. The fish would then grow back the slice ready for the next meal.
There is a town named Cury on the Lizard Peninsula, near Helston. The church here is also named St Corentin.

Saint Erc

Saint Fingar

Saint Germoe

St Germoe was another of the saints who came over from Ireland. He arrived with other missionaries, including his sister Breaca, in around 460 AD. According to the respected antiquarian John Leland (1540) they landed near Hayle, but were attacked by a local warlord named Teudar. After escaping up the River Hayle, they took refuge on Tregonning Hill where they later founded a Celtic settlement.
The church and village of Germoe is named after him.

Geraint of Dumnonia (Gerren, Gerent, Gerran)

Geraint was a King of Dumnonia who ruled in the early eighth century. During his reign, it is believed that Dumnonia came repeatedly into conflict with neighbouring Anglo-Saxon Wessex who started to control what became the county of Somerset after a series of battles that culminated in a victory of the West Saxons and South Saxons under Ine in AD 710.

A letter survives addressed to him from Aldhelm on the Easter Problem. It is clear that in the later seventh century the British in Cornwall and Devon still observed Easter on the dates that the Celtic church had calculated, at variance with Catholic practice.

Geraint is venerated as a saint, and appears in the Welsh language classic "The Mabiginion".

He was the last recorded king of a unified Dumnonia, with subsequent kings (eg Doniert, Huwell) reigned over a reducing area of influence that eventually encompassed only a part of Cornwall.

Saint Gundred

Saint Ia

Founder of the town of St Ives
Legend says that to reach Cornwall, she sailed across the Irish Sea on a leaf (although it is more likely it was a coracle). She landed and settled at the mouth of the Hayle River where Saint Ives, formerly called Porth Ia, now stands

Saint Just

Seems to be derived from one of the many French Saint Justs

Saint Keyne

Saint Levan

Saint Marwenna

Saint Mawes

Saint Menfre

Saint Michael

Saint Morwenna

Saint Neot

Allegedly only 15 inches high St Neot spent much of his day up to his neck in a well during his devotions.
It is said Neot had a strange way with animals and birds, and worked miracles with them. These are portrayed in the stained glass windows of St Neot's Church

Saint Non

Saint Ouine

Saint Petroc

St Petroc, sometimes spelt Petrock is a sixth century Celtic saint. He was born in Southern Wales to a prince but primarily ministered to the Britons of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset.

The town of Padstow is named after him in Cornwall. He appears to have been based there for some time. There are numerous dedications to him throughout the county.

In neighbouring Devon the dedications to St Petroc are even more numerous, and the North Devon town of Petrockstow is named after him (as are Newton St Petroc and other towns) and the newly adopted flag of Devon is dedicated to him.

St Petroc is also the patron of Timberscombe in Somerset.

Saint Piran

Saint Piran is the patron saint of tin-miners. He is also generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall, although Saint Michael also has some claim to this title. Saint Piran's Flag is a white cross on a black background: this is well-attested in oral tradition but its provenance is disputed by historians. St Piran's Day is March 5th.

He is the most famous of all the Irish saints who came to Cornwall. He is said to have discovered tin and is reputed to have founded the monastery of Clonmacnois (Clumaineteno).

It is said that at his death the remains of the Blessed Martin the Abbot which he had brought from Ireland were buried with him at Perranzabulo; his own remains were subsequently exhumed and redistributed to be used as reliquaries. Exeter Cathedral was reputed to be the possessor of one of his arms, while according to an inventory of St Piran's Church, Perranzabulo, had a reliquary containing his head and also a hearse in which his body was placed for processionals.

Legend: The heathen Irish tied him to a mill-stone, rolled it over the edge of a cliff into a stormy sea, which immediately became calm, and the saint floated safely over the water to land upon the sandy beach of Perranzabulo in Cornwall, where his first converts to Christianity were animals.

Legend: St. Piran "rediscovered" tin-smelting (the Romans had smelted tin in Cornwall, but the methods had since been lost) when his black hearthstone, which was evidently a slab of tin-bearing ore, had the tin smelt out of it & rise to the top in the form of a white cross (thus the image on the flag).

St. Ronan

St. Ronan preached throughout his part of the Celtic Christian world, particularly in Cornwall and Brittany.

Saint Salom

Saint Salom (c. 460), a Cornish saint, was a King who succeeded his cousin, Mark, as King of Cerniw in the early 6th century. He was a younger son of King Erbin of Dumnonia and married Saint Wenna, the daughter of an Irish Prince who had settled at Caer-Goch near Mynyw. Their son was the famous Saint Cybi.

Little is known about his reign, though he has been recorded as holding the post of Chief Military Officer of the British. Saint Salom, considered a holy man himself, founded the Church of Lansalos in Cerniw.

His memorial may be the Chi-Rho inscribed stone to be seen at Saint Just-in-Penwith recording "Selus lies here".

Saint Uny

Saint Ursula

Her legend, probably ahistorical, is that she was a British princess who, at the request of her father King Donaut, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany), along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. However, a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, where Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome, with her followers, and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus (unknown in the pontifical records), and Bishop of Ravenna, Sulpicius, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a dreadful massacre. The Huns' leader shot Ursula dead, supposedly in 383.

Saint Wenna

Saint Wenna (c.472 - 18 October 544) is a Cornish saint. She was the daughter of Lord Cynyr Ceinfarfog of Caer Goch, the wife of King Salom of Cerniw (corresponding to modern Cornwall) and the mother of Saint Cybi. She founded the churches of Sant Wenn and Saint Morval in Cerniw. She died in Cerniw.