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Cornish Saints – Saint Germanus, Saint Neot, Saint Petroc and Saint Sampson

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St. Germanus

Feast day: 31st July

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. He also visited the shrine of St. Alban’s to pray.

St. Neot

Feast day: 31st July

St. Neot was a monk who studied at Glastonbury Abbey. He became an advisor to King Alfred the Great and it is in a book about St. Neot that we read about King Alfred burning the cakes when hiding from the Danes at Athelney. St. Neot travelled to Cornwall where, seeking a life of solitude, he started a hermitage – a monastery where monks each lived alone in their rooms.

St. Petroc

Feast day: 4th June

St. Petroc was a Welsh nobleman who was educated in an Irish monastery and then sailed with a small band of followers to Camel estuary. He arrived in the estuary and built a church at Padstow with a Celtic monastery as a centre for spreading the Christian faith. In his travels he also started churches in Bodmin and Little Petherick, as well as in many parts of Britain, Wales and Brittany.

King Constantine ruled the area at this time and was said to have been converted to Christianity by St. Petroc when he rescued the deer that the King was hunting. There are many legends about St. Petroc’s healing, miracles and banishing monsters. He was buried at Padstow. In the 12th Century St. Petroc’s Church in Bodmin got his relics and put them in a painted ivory casket, which can still be seen today. Some people regard St. Petroc as the Patron Saint of Cornwall.

St. Sampson

Feast day: 28th July

St. Sampson was the son of a Welsh Chieftain who became Abbot of Caldey Island near Tenby and visited Ireland before being ordained a Bishop by St. Dubricius. At Easter time St. Sampson saw an angelic vision who told him to leave the country and cross the sea. Travelling with three cousins and other friends he crossed Cornwall, coming to a monastery at Lau Docco and then on to Fowey. Wherever he went he was said to have ‘by God, given sight to the blind, healed many lepers, cast out devils and saved many wandering in error’.

Passing through the Hundred of Trigg (also known as Triggshire was one of ten ancient administrative shires of Cornwall) he came across a group of people worshipping an idol with music and dancing. He converted them to Christianity through his words and a miraculous healing and they were all baptised. His biographer wrote about the place where it happened. ‘On this hill I have myself stood, and worshipped; with my fingers I have traced the sign of the cross which Saint Samson by his own hand carved with an iron tool on a standing stone’.

Saint Sampson stayed there some time, living in a cave from which a spring of water flowed. He started a monastery there, which he left in the care of his father. He travelled on to Brittany, where he founded another monastery and church, which became the Cathedral of Dol.

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