Cornwall 's Saints
Legend tells us that St.Piran, the patron saint of the tinners, sailed here on a millstone. Originally it had been tied around his neck and he had been cast into the Atlantic by people jealous of his power to heal and work miracles. As he was thrown off the cliff there was a bolt of lightning and a terrible crash of thunder, but as he reached the sea the storm suddenly abated, the sun came out and St.Piran could be seen seated peacefully on the millstone which was now floating on the surface of the water. It bore him safely across to Cornwall and he landed between Newquay and Perranporth at Perran Beach, to which he gave his name.
Piran built himself a small chapel in Penhale sands and his first disciples were said to be a badger, a fox and a bear. He lived a good and useful life, surviving to the ripe old age of 206 !
It's claimed that a huge skeleton unearthed near Perranzabuloe St Piran
The Sands) could be his, and the remnants of his chapel were discovered in the sand during the last century, but sadly they have now been reburied to protect them from vandals.
St Mawes was the tenth son of an Irish king and his name is revered not only here but in Brittany too, where he is known as St Maudez and, possibly, St Malo. His stone chair is still preserved in the wall of a house in St Mawes village.
One day, so the legend goes, he was sitting there preaching when a noisy seal came out of the sea and interrupted him with its barking. After a while he became impatient, picked up a large rock and threw it at the animal. It missed, but legend tells us that the rock still remains where it fell, wedged on top of the Black Rocks halfway across Falmouth Harbour.
St.Petroc, who gave his name to Padstow (Petrocstow originally) and several local villages (Little Petherick, Trebetherick) arrived by more conventional means, but to a hostile welcome. Landing at Trebetherick, he asked some unfriendly locals for a drink and they refused him. Undeterred, Petroc simply tapped his staff on the ground and a spring of fresh water appeared. The hostile group were instantly converted to loyal disciples.
After his death his relics were taken to Bodmin to be housed in an ivory casket decorated with brass and gold, where they remained undisturbed until 1994, when the casket was stolen from the church by thieves. Fortunately for the people of Bodmin who were distraught by the theft, the thieves were apparently unable to find a market for one of the most priceless reliquaries in Britain, and it was recovered shortly afterwards and returned to its display case in the church.
Close by Land's End lies the church of Levan. Levan was an enthusiastic fisherman and on his return from fishing rips would sometimes rest on a rock at he south side of the church, to the left of the porch.
It is said that before he died he decided to leave a reminder of himself for future generations, and so he struck the rock with his fist and it split open.
The stone bears a prophesy, for St Levan is supposed to have prayed over it and pronounced that when a pack horse with panniers astride it can be ridden through the split in the stone the world will end. Fortunately the fissure in the rock has not widened sufficiently for that to happen yet!
St Neot was known as The Pygmy Saint, for we dare told that he was a mere 15 inches high- possibly a tall story! He used to spend much of his day immersed up to the neck in his well during his devotions.
Neot had a strange way with animals and birds and worked miracles with them, as depicted in the beautiful stained glass window of his church in the East Cornwall village named after him.
St.Gundred, one of Cornwall's lesser known saints, was, so legend tells us a very holy and virtuous lady whose father was a leper, (though there are no records of her and she may be confused with the male saint St. Gonand!). It is said that she lived in the remarkable chapel which stands on the top of Roche Rock, near St Austell, tending to her sick father's needs. the Roche Rock chapel also features in the Cornish legend of 'Jan Tregagle' and is one of the most curious religious, monuments in the whole country, 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 rockface.
Like St.Piran, St.Ia, founder of the town of St.lves, arrived by unusual means. A woman of noble birth, she is said to have floated over from Ireland on a leaf which she had increased to a huge size by touching it with her staff.
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