Oratory Of Saints Petroc & Piran
A Celtic Ministry, based in West Cornwall, aiming to meet the needs of the Cornish and those living in Cornwall.
It is our wish to show the way down the Celtic path to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Much of the Celtic way has been lost in the mists of time, but now you may journey with us to rediscover and establish again the Celtic Way in Cornwall.
We are here to help you on your life journey and to facilitate the times of lifes cross roads. The cross roads many know are birth, marriage and death, there are many more times when we may need to find a special way to mark a milestone in our lives. We are happy to help you by being the celebrant at your ceremony.
St. Piran: Abbot of Lanpiran
St. Piran (Born c.AD 480), is the most popular of the Patron Saints of Cornwall (the others being St. Michael and St. Petroc). His family origins are obscure, but the tradition that he came from Ireland is extremely strong. Misguided medieval hagiographers identified him with St. Ciaran of Saighir. Though the two names are arguably the same, an identification with St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, whose father is said to have come from Cornwall, is much more likely. Piran's father and mother are both given Irish ancestries. However, his father's name, Domuel, is certainly British and he was probably Prince Dywel ap Erbin of the Royal House of Dumnonia.
Piran spent his younger days in South Wales, where he founded a church in Caer-Teim (Cardiff). He probably received his religious schooling at the monastery of St. Cadog in Llancarfon where he would have met St. Finnian. Piran's mother being of Irish blood, the two presumably got on well and returned together to Ireland where Finnian founded some six monasteries, including his most famous one at Clonard (Meath). Piran-Ciaran lived here before moving on to live with St. Enda on Aran Island and then St. Senan on Scattery Island. He finally founded his own community at Clonmacnoise, "Ireland's University".
Cornish legend tells how, in old age, Piran was captured by the local pagan Irish. Jealous of his miraculous healing powers, they tied a millstone around his neck and threw him off a cliff and into the sea during an horrendous storm. As Piran hit the water, the storm abated and the millstone bobbed to the surface as though it were made of cork! With his new-found raft, Piran set sail for his homeland of Cornwall. He landed at Perran Beach, to which he gave his name, and built himself a small oratory on Penhale Sands at Perranporth, where he performed many miracles for the local people. It was excavated from the dunes during the 19th century, but has recently been reburied for its own protection. He was eventually joined by others seeking solitude and so established the Abbey of Lanpiran.
Piran's rise to be Cornwall's Patron stems from his popularity with the Cornish tin-miners. It is said that Piran himself first discovered tin in Cornwall (or rediscovered what the Romans knew well) when he used a large black Cornish rock to build himself a fireplace. He was amazed to find that, as the flames grew hotter, a trickle of pure white metal began to ooze from the stone. He shared this knowledge with the local people and thus provided the Cornish with a lucrative living. The locals were so delighted that they held a sumptuous feast in Piran's honour where the wine ran like water. Piran was fond of the odd tipple and he is still remembered today in the Cornish phrase "As drunk as a Perraner". The trickling white metal upon its black background, however, remains his most enduring memorial as the White Cross of St. Piran on the Cornish National flag.
Piran founded churches at Perranuthno and Perranarworthal, and a chapel at Tintagel. His holy-well, the "Venton-Barren" was at Probus. He probably also made trips to Brittany where he became an associate of St. Cai. Here, Piran is remembered at Trézélidé, St. Peran, Loperan and Saint-Perran. Arthurian tradition, expounded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, says that he became chaplain to the great King Arthur and was made Archbishop of Ebrauc (York) after St. Samson was exiled by Saxon invasions. If so, it seems unlikely that he ever properly took up his Archiepiscopal See. Traditionally, Piran died at his little hermitage on 5th March though, as this is St. Ciaran of Saighir's Day, his true feast day may have been the 18th November as found in the Launceston Church Calendar. His relics were a great draw to pilgrims but, due to inundation by the sand, they were eventually moved inland to where the Parish Church of Perranzabuloe (St. Piran-in-the-Sands) was built to house them.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! You brought a vine out of Egypt, you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see, have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
St. Petroc: Abbot of Lanwethinoc
St Petroc,(c.468-564), the Patron Saint Cornwall, was a younger son of King Glywys Cernyw of Glywysing. Upon his father's death, the people of Glywysing called for Pedroc to take on the crown of one the country's sub-divisions like his brothers. Petroc, however wished to pursue a religious life and left, with several followers, to study in Ireland.
Some years later, Petroc and his band returned to Britain, landing on the shores of the River Camel in Cerniw (Cornwall). They were directed, by St. Samson, to the hermitage of St. Wethnoc who, seeing Petroc's superior piety agreed to give him his cell in return for Petroc naming the place Llanwethinoc (now Padstow - Petroc's Stow) in his honour. Petroc founded a monastery on the site but, after thirty years there, he decided to go on a pilgrimage to Rome, via Brittany. On his return journey, just as he reached Newton St. Petrock (Devon), it began to rain. Petroc predicted that this would soon stop, but it continued to rain for three days. In penance for such presumption, Petroc returned to Rome, travelled on to Jerusalem and finally settled in India where he lived for seven years on an island in the Indian Ocean.
Petroc eventually returned to Britain (with a wolf companion he had met in India), but may have gone on a further pilgrimage to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey), founding churches at St. Petrox (Dyfed) and Llanbedrog (Lleyn) on the way. Back in Cerniw, with the help of Saints Wethnoc and Samson, he defeated a mighty serpent which the late King Teudar of Penwith had used to devour his enemies. This done, he departed from his monastery at Llanwethinoc (Padstow) to live as a hermit in the woods at Nanceventon (Little Petherick). Some of his fellow monks followed his example at Vallis Fontis (St. Petroc Minor). It was while in the wilderness that a hunted deer saught shelter in St. Petroc's cell. Petroc protected it from the hungry grasp of King Constantine of Dumnonia and managed to convert him to Christianity into the bargain.
Petroc later moved still deeper into the Cornish countryside, where he discovered St. Guron living in a humble cell. Guron gave up his hermitage and moved south, allowing Petroc, with the backing of King Constantine, to establish a second monastery called Bothmena (Bodmin - the Abode of Monks) after the monks who lived there. Petroc eventually died at Treravel, while travelling between Nanceventon (Little Petherick) and Llanwethinoc (Padstow), and was buried at Padstow. The monks there later removed themselves, along with Petroc's body, to Bodmin where his beautiful Norman casket reliquary can still be seen today.
Beannachd Dia dhuit
(blessings of God be with you)