Female saints in Cornwall

Following up on this research on saints in Cornwall from Sarah Fish, “The female saints of Cornwall“.  The names have been organized by both alphabetical and calendar lists, H/T Dysklver:

As Fish notes, most saints came from somewhere else, having floated in on a leaf, or migrated with some group of pilgrims or some such. Little is known about many of the saints, who are sometimes only associated with a particular church or sacred well.

Also note that Wikipedia has an article “List of Cornish saints“, which is not broken down by gender, but undoubtedly some of the listed saints are female. There is probably a way to pull the information out of WikiData using a Sparkl query, assuming they are labeled correctly, but I don’t have time to figure it out. The list also exists in French, but oddly enough, not in Cornish. Perhaps one of Dysk’s sisters will be on it.

Sources:

  • Staff at St Anne’s (stub), Whitstone (multiple maintneance tags), Advent, and Morwenstowand
  • Staff of St Austell library (the article for St Austell tells us the library building is a notable landmark, but not even a paragraph about it, much less a sentence with the address and hours – here’s your source for that…the official website)
  • Staff of the Cornish Studies Library, Redruth, “Cornwall’s largest library of Cornish printed and published archival material.[citation needed]” …(and what a lot of tags on that one, surely their move is finished by now) Do those people know about 1lib1ref?????

Unhelpful texts

  • The Life of St Breage (lost manuscript, 5th-6th c)
  • Breton Life of St Non (which places the saint in Brittony rather than Cornwall)
  • St Samson of Dol, a male saint, does not talk about his sainted mother
  • Ordinalia, no info on female saints

Secondary literature on saints

  • Nicholas Orme on the saints of Cornwall (eBook $151.99, no snippet view, however this does occasionally yield info on search) (Amazon preview however has a huge amount of material reproduced, including bibliography – click on image of cover)
  • Oliver Padel on Cornish place names: Popular Dictionary of Cornish Place-Names, 1988. [google books, no snippet]
  • Nicholas Roscorrock (red link) and his work on church dedications in Cornwall in the sixteenth century (Nicholas Roscarrock’s Lives of the saints : Cornwall and Devon / edited by Nicholas Orme, 1992 based on ms at Cambridge University Library Manuscript Add. 3041) (limited view at Hathitrust).
  • Historians and folklorist such as the Reverend Gilbert Doble… “St Gerent – a Cornish saint, by the Rev. Canon Gilbert H. Doble, M.A.” 1938. PDF) (another copy: St_Gerent-A_Cornish_Saint)(ahhh, look at them all).
  • Historian and folklorist Robert Hunt, “Popular Romances of the West of England collected and edited by Robert Hunt” [1903, 3rd edition] , text. (volume one is giants, mermaids, etc, volume two is saints, holy wells, legends of Arthur etc.) On Gutenberg; on Internet Archive.)

Saints by location

This is how Fish originally categorizes the saints, having backed off of a straight list form.

Far west of Cornwall

  • St Ia of St Ives – stained glass windows in the church, statue is displayed above the altar in the Lady Chapel, displayed in church banner (?).
  • St Neulina of St Newlyn East
  • Minster
  • St Austell and Truro – more populated, less info

Far east near Devon

  • St Anne’s at Whitstone – more dedicated to saint, less populated areas

Other

  • St Keyne’s Well near Looe
  • Virgin martyrs- links with other Celtic countries, namely Ireland, Wales and Brittany.

Alphabetical list

Wikipedia articles are linked, where they exist.

  • Adwenna, Adwen – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog – place name “Advent”, just outside the hamlet of Tresinney near Camelford, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Possibly same as Dwywnen or Lan (or La) Dwynwen; January 25
  • Agnes, virgin and martyr, fourth-century Roman martyr, killed when she refused to marry the governor’s son, local legend says she fled Rome for Cornwall, performed miracles such as turning the Devil into a stone.
  • Anne – holy mother (of St Samson of Dol), originally from Wales, moved on to Brittany, St Anne at Whitstone in north Cornwall, the first dedication of this church to her was in 1883; previously the dedication had been to St Nicholas, holy well on church grounds carved face on back of well “an early Celtic water shrine to the pagan water spirit, Annas”. Saint Anna verch Gwerthefyr gan Oxenhall, princess.
  • Anta, Lelant church (to the east of St Ives), also the patron of Carbis Bay church in the next village to Lelant
  • Breage (or Breaca ) – Irish origin, traveled with St Germoe, who was said to be her foster son, possibly the sister of St Levan, although this might have been St Manacca; disciple of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid, June 4
  • Brevita at Lanlivery; Brivet (Bryvyth), Briuete de Lannyvery, Breutte, Breute, Brevita, Briueta (Latin); first Sunday after the first Tuesday in May
  • Bride, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Brychan Brycheiniog, just for reference was a king who had a dozen or so daughters who became saints, high-ranking Welsh noblewomen, and whose churches tend to be close together
  • Buryan (St. Buriana, Beriana, Berion)(Buriana, Beriona, Burian), parish of St. Buryan near Land’s End, cured King Gerent’s son of paralysis.  Feast day May 27 [source] “the nearest Sunday to May 13th” p.121
  • Columb, virgin and martyr, daughter of pagan king who converted and refused to marry a pagan, “a holy well was formed at the spot where her blood landed on the ground.The place where she was martyred is named as Ruthwas, the present-day hamlet of Ruthvoes (Cornish: ‘red bank’).”
  • Columba – virgin martyr, one of the virgins who suffered with St Ursula, or possibly mixed with Columb.
  • Creed, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Crewenna, companion of Breage, patron saint of Crowan church, whose parish adjoins that of Breage and St Breaca “Her anniversary or Feast is still celebrated in the Anglican and Methodist churches on the nearest Sunday to Candlemas Eve (1st February)” Feb 1
  • Crowan (patroness of Crowan, Cornwall) Crevan, Crewen, Crozon (pronounced Craon) on Brittony’s west coast.
  • Derva, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Dominica, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Electa, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Endelienta,  Endelient – miraculous legends – local, daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog…St Endellion feast day April 29
  • Felec, see Piala
  • Gulval, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Ia_of_Persia_(Menologion_of_Basil_II)
    Ia of Persia

    Ia (or St Hya) – mention in Life of St Gwinear, Irish origin, disciple of St. Patrick, sister of St Erth  St. Ercus, and St Euny, male saints, tomb is (was) in St Ives church, holy well, Venton Ia, near Porthmeor beach; February 3 [source] See also Caitlin Green’s comparison with St. Ia of Persia: “St Ia of St Ives: a Byzantine saint in early medieval Cornwall?

  • Issey, virgin, also Filius [source]
  • Kew, virgin , Kigwe, Kywa, patroness of St. Kew or Lanon, St. Kyul, Guic, Ciwke. Feb. 8 [source]
  • Keyne – references to lost Lives, aunt of St Cadog, thought to be a daughter of Brychan, but appears in Welsh lists, Latin Life of St Keyne translated by Doble in 1930; besides “Llangain (‘church of Cain/Keyne’), and the parish of St Keyne itself, St Keyne is also associated with Keynsham in Somerset (where she is said to have turned snakes into stone)” “St Keyne is said to have blessed the waters of the well on her deathbed, then gave them their powers hoping ‘to benefit the world, by giving to woman a chance of being equal to her lord and master’; October 8
  • Keyn, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Ladock, virgin, Ladoca, Patroness of Ladock Jan. 1
  • Ludgvan, Ludewin – see Adwen
  • Mabena, Mabon – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church at St Mabyn; November 18
  • Maker, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Materiana (also Mertherian),  patron of the church in Tintagel and its mother church at Minster, possibly “the Welsh princess Madrun, daughter of King Vortimer of Gwent, who fled to Cornwall after the death of her father”; October 19.
  • Matherian, virgin (Matheriana, Marchai, Patroness of Minster? April 9?) [source p.733]
  • Marwenna, St Marwenne or St Merewenne – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, sister of Morwenna, of Marhamchurch, possibly Merwenn, a tenth-century English abbess who lived in Romsey, Hampshire; August 12
  • Menfre or Menefreda, Menefrida, Minver, virgin – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church of St Minver; Tredresick, Cornwall; hermitage, chapel and holy well were at Tredizzick, devil attacked her and she threw a comb at him, father Saint Brychan, feast day July 24, later July 13, some say Nov. 24 [source, p. 734]
  • Morwenna – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, sister of Marwenna – miraculous legends – local – place name “Marwenschurch”, parish of Morwenstow, well of St Morwenna is distant and inaccessible,  one of the children of Brechanus in St Nectaines life, possibly Breton saint Moren (of Lamorran) but probably not
  • Non, Nennyd, Naunter- Welsh origin – holy mother (of St David) – place name “Altarnun”, moved on to Brittany, mystery play Buhez Santez Nonn (Life of St Non) Paris 1837, performed on feast day [text on Internet Archive, free ebook]; March 3
  • Neulina (of St Newlyn East) – of Cornish origin, possibly Breton saint Noualen, (Noyale?) commemorated at Pontivy in Brittany.
  • Newlyn,virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Phillak, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Piala,  Phiala – virgin martyr – Irish origin – sister of St Gwinear (Fingar) – church at Phillack, near Hayle, where there is also a holy well bearing her name, church also dedicated to a St Felec, possibly St. Felicity, landed in Cornwall, killed by the local chieftain, Dec. 14 [source]
  • Senara, patron of Zennor. Feast day?
  • Sidwell, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Sitha, virgin; Sytha, Syth, chapel of St. Sitha at Bradford, possibly St. Osith Oct. 7
  • Stythyan, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)
  • Tedda, Tetha, Eatha- daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, church in St Teath near St Adwen at Advent. Originally May 1, then Whit Tuesday, the day after Pentecost Monday. Fairs on the last Tuesday in February and first Tuesday in July [source]
  • Wenna, Sancte Wenne – daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, dedicated to her: church at St Wenn, in mid Cornwall, and the church in Morval, near Looe on the south coast, also a chapel in St Kew parish. Possibly St Gwen or Guen, who appears in the Welsh genealogies as a daughter of Brychan, [see also two St. Wennas];  (c.472 – 18 October 544) was the daughter of Lord Cynyr Ceinfarfog of Caer Goch, the wife of King Salom of Cerniw (Cornwall) and the mother of Saint Cybi. She founded the churches of Sant Wenn and Saint Morval in Cerniw. She died in Cerniw.
  • Wendron, virgin (from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”)

List from “Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints”

Perpetual Calendar of Cornish Saints, with selections of poetry and prose relating to Cornwall, Sarah L. Enys, Published by A.W. Jordan, 1923

Virgins (Cornish ‘Gwerhes’):  Ladock, Sitha, Bride, Crowan, Ia, Kew, Maker, Derva, Matherian, Newlyn, Dominica, Buryan, Breag, Morwenna, Stythyan, Electa, Sidwell, Keyn, Wendron, Gulval, Issey, Minver, Creed, Phillak.

Virgin and martyr (Cornish: ‘Gwerhes ha Merther’): Agnes and Columb

Saints by date

Jan. 1 – Ladock [source p.733]

January 25 – Dwywnen (see Adwen) (also the conversion of St. Paul), nearest Sunday to January 25 – Ludgvan (see Adwen)

Feb 1 – St. Crewenna

st IaFebruary 3 – St. Ia, celebration is on the nearest Monday, parade to Venton Ia, to bless the silver hurling ball (?) (children have an ongoing game at the festival, the ball is carried to the holy well at the beginning for blessing)

Feb. 8 – St. Kew

March 3 – St. Non of Wales (Nonna, Nonnita) [source]

April 29 – Endelienta [source]

May (early) – St Brevita at Lanlivery, local feast week begins with blessing and dressing the holy well; first Sunday after the first Tuesday in May (1870 and 1887) [source]

May 27 – St. Buryan [source]

June 4 – Breaca of Cornwall, (also known as Breague, Branca, Banka) 5th-6th century. Saint Breaca was a disciple of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid. [source] Formerly May 1 [source]

July 24 – Saint Menefrida, Tredresick, Cornwall; father Saint Brychan [source] ?sources differ

August 12 – the feast day of St Marwenna, the Marhamchurch Revel is on the closest Monday

Oct. 7 – St. Sitha [source, p. 752]

October 8 – St. Keyne, Cain, Cenau, Cenedion, Ceinwen, keane, Keyna, Kayane, from between Looe and Lskeard, a dragon slayer, ritual for upper hand in marriage [source]

October 19 – St. Materiana, Madrun, Madryn, Merthiana, Merhteriana, Marcellinana, daugher of King Vortimer, church of St. Maeriana, Boscastle, the church at Tintagel has her image in stained glass and statue [source]

November 18 – St. Mabyn, Mabena, Mabon daugher of Brychan [source]

Dec. 14 – Piala (Phiala) [source]

More sources

Saints

Green, Caitlin, “St Ia of St Ives: a Byzantine saint in early medieval Cornwall?” The two St. Ias – St. Ia of Cornwall and St. Ia of Persia , archeology, and trade relations between Britian and the Byzantine Empire.

Baring-Gould, S. and Fisher, J. The Lives of the British Saints,  at least 4 volumes, see

Buhez Santez Nonn (Life of St Non) Paris 1837, mystery play performed on St. Non feast day [text on Internet Archive, free ebook]

A Book of Cornwall, by S. Baring-Gould, 1906. https://archive.org/details/bookofcornwall00bari/page/n10

Popular Romances of the West of England, collected and edited by Robert Hunt, 1903. [Gutenberg; Internet Archive.]

Borlase, W., Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall (London: Bowyer and Nichols, 1769), reprinted 1973. [limited view Hathitrust],; Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall: Consisting of Several Essays on the First Inhabitants, Druid-superstition, Customs, and Remains of the Most Remote Antiquity in Britain, and the British Isles, Exemplified and Proved by Monuments Now Extant in Cornwall and the Scilly Islands, with a Vocabulary of the Cornu-British Language, 1769.  [Free eBook ]

The Age of the Saints: A Monograph of Early Christianity in Cornwall, with the Legends of the Cornish Saints : and an Introduction Illustrative of the Ethnology of the District, William Copeland Borlase, 1895. [Free eBook] [Hathitrust, 1893-full view; 1895, full view]

Gilbert Doble, series of booklets about saints

  • Saint Gerent (Gerendus, Gerens), Cornish Saints Series, No. 41, 1938.

Further descripton of the series [cached page] [archive of cached page] at Library Thing: “The Welsh language Wicipedia includes a warning when using Noble’s (sic) work, that he did not believe that women could lead communities or travel regularly, and that the monks who wrote about them were mistaken. This he tried to rectify by turning some female saints into men, and splitting or merging saints that worked close to each other. For example, he suggested that Non was two saints, one the mother of St David and the other a man who travelled and established communities.”

General interest

Cornwall, with maps, diagrams and illustrations, by Baring-Gould, 1910. [Internet Archive]

Henry Jenner, A Handbook of the Cornish Language: Chiefly in Its Latest Stages, with Some Account of Its History and Literature, 1904. [Free ebook]

Cornish saints & sinners by Harris, J. Henry, 1906 [Internet Archive]

Women Saints of Cornwall, Part 1“, Dmitry Lapa, blog post with local photos Saint Breaga, Saint Endelienda, Saint Morwenna

Women Saints of Cornwall. Part 2“, Dmitry Lapa, blog post with local photos, Saint Buriana, Saint Ia (Ives), Saint Keyne

Dictionary of Celtic Saints, Elizabeth Rees, 2012. (gbooks, searchable)

~~~~

Partial list of books by Gilbert Doble :

Series: “The Saints of Cornwall”

“Saint Mewan and Saint Austol” https://archive.org/details/doble-saint-mewan-and-saint-austoll-2nd-ed-1939/page/n1/mode/2up 2nd edition 1939. (from https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2021/11/10/g-h-dobles-cornish-saints-series-the-original-booklets/ ) (contains an intro to the whole series)

“St Gerent – a Cornish saint, by the Rev. Canon Gilbert H. Doble, M.A.” 1938. PDF No.41
[another PDF]
from Library thing [cached][archived from cache]

The Saints of Cornwall: Saints of the Lands End District Pt. 1 by G.H. Doble 1
The Saints of Cornwall: Part Two: Saints of the Lizard District by Gilbert Hunter Doble 2
The Saints of Cornwall: Saints of the Fal Pt. 3 by G.H. Doble 3
The Saints of Cornwall: Part Four – Newquay, Padstow and Bodmin District by Gilbert Hunter Doble 4
The Saints of Cornwall: Part Five: Saints of Mid-Cornwall by Gilbert Hunter Doble 5
The Saints of Cornwall: Part Six – Saints of North Cornwall by Gilbert Hunter Doble

20 thoughts on “Female saints in Cornwall

  1. That is some very interesting scholarship, and I have added the source to the article.
    St. Ia of Persia did make it into a disambig page, and technically she was one of the “9000 martyrs”, which the article for Shapur II almost sort of mentions. and she is listed with the 9000 martyrs in the Eastern Orthodox calendar of saints (including an icon) under in September 11 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics) Here she is also called “Violet”. Also, according to this dictionary of saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, it looks like the Roman martyrology may have deleted her 9000 co-martyrs. although they were all 9000 of them still there in 1916 ( p. 232), but for some reason they list her feast day in August.

    I should probably do a separate post about her, if for not other reason but to jog the google algorithms, (the indexing bots don’t seem do stuff that is added later), but looking at the whole Persian martyr thing, its a pretty complex topic and I doubt if I could do it justice. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/acts-of-the-persian-martyrs Maybe for her feast day 9/11 (in the U.S. pronounced “nine eleven“) depending on my mood.

    If you remember, Ursula also had a lot of co-martyrs, 11,000 or so, much to the delight of both the female religious devotees of the Holy Land, and the church in Cologne that did a brisk business in relics.

    I can suggest a couple of other reasons for the name. People were often named for saints, and still are. Also on taking religious orders often there is a new name as part of the ceremony, not sure how this is decided, perhaps they take the name of a saint. For instance you may remember Thekla the Nun, the 9th century hymnist, was named for Thekla the saint, the legendary companion of St. Paul whose “Life” was written in the 5th century.

  2. Thank you for these resources. They are valuable. I found them while attempting to find sources for the supposed apparition of St Michael at the Mount in 495, and Borlase’s account and references are helpful in following the rabbit hole of references. I have been trying to find the text, ideally with translation, of the Vita of St Keyne to this end; and in the process I stumbled across your post. No luck yet tho!

    I always feel an impulse to be kind to Gilbert Doble. It sounds as if he had a hard time in life, and he did so much with so little. I wish all his “Lives” were online in PDF.

    Thank you again.

  3. That’s very kind. I had not seen that post and I wasn’t aware that there was an English version of John of Tynemouth! I must look at that.

    But I did find what I was looking for, via those Downside Review articles – awful paywall -, and posted it last night. So… text and translation here:

    https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2021/05/27/the-vita-sancta-keyna-an-extract-from-the-vita-s-cadoci-and-a-modern-myth-about-the-year-490-at-st-michaels-mount/

  4. Nicely done, I have added the links to the new post.

    I have also found out the objection to the Doble account. “It has been suggested by Doble that Keyne might have been a man, as the journeyings are more in character with male saints of that period.” https://www.google.com/books/edition/Butler_s_Lives_of_the_Saints/WmiNrUarzLUC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=John+of+Tynemouth,+saint+keyne&pg=PA51&printsec=frontcover If this is what you learn by being the son of an Oxford scholar, I despair of British scholarship. Not surprising that contemporary sources seem to dismiss it.

    Here is an interesting tidbit about female saints in the Celtic tradition:
    “Where an abbot or abbess was head of an ecclesiastical tribe, he or she was bound to find land for each household: nine furrows of arable land, nine of bog, nine of grass-land, and as much of forest. As the population increased, a secular or an ecclesiastical chief was obliged to obtain an extension of territory, or would be held to have forfeited his claims as a chief. This led to incessant feud among the Celtic princes; it forced the saints to be continually striving to obtain fresh grants of land and make fresh settlements. When there was no more chance of obtaining land in Ireland, they sent swarms to Britain and to Brittany, to found colonies there, under the jurisdiction of the saint.” https://catholicsaints.info/virgin-saints-and-martyrs-saint-itha/

    That bit also mentions Saint Bridget/Brigid who was absolutely huge at the time. See here the story of the miracle of how she got land for monastery. https://brigidine.org.au/about-us/our-patroness/legend-of-st-brigids-cloak/ These stories of saints always seem to focus on good deeds and not on the underlying economic and land systems. You have to really wonder what else has been lost in the mists of time.

  5. Possibly Doble was trying to minimise the incredulity of his contemporaries, themselves not well disposed towards Celtic hagiography anyway. I’ve found that the collected version of his papers done in 6 volumes by Truro Cathedral is very abbreviated. The original papers are now out of copyright and it would be a good deed to put them online. I’ve discovered that Cambridge University Library have a volume of all but a few. They won’t allow visitors at the moment, thanks to the plague; but I may go up there and take a look. I don’t know how many pages would be involved, but I might try and photocopy it and do something.

    I’d never heard of that problem with land before. I wonder on what that statement is based? Fascinating if so.

    I find that there are five Latin vitae of S. Brigid, plus an Old Irish one. I think only the Irish and one or two of the Latin have been translated into English, which seems very strange to me. I sometimes wonder why our universities teach Greek and Latin, and have done so for centuries, but do not encourage their graduates to translate. Mind you I read today that Princeton has decided to stop obliging its “classics” undergraduates to learn Latin and Greek.

    Hagiography is frustrating to me. So much of it is given up to miracle stories, of a predictable kind, and so little to history. I’m working with the idea that hagiography is really a form of folk-story, like the ballads of Robin Hood. The historical content of the surviving texts seems to range all the way from Eusebius’ Martyrs of Palestine – basically history – down to the earliest life of St George, in which the latter is put to death and resurrected, three times. The latter managed to attract the irritation of the church in the Decretum Gelasianum for being “silly”, and also heretical. (That happens if you call your baddie “Athanasius”.) I’ve not found a decent introduction that starts where most of us are, namely historians wanting information and wondering what this stuff is.

  6. If Doble was making stuff up just to impress his fratboi buddies, that just makes it worse. It really calls into question the accuracy of the rest of his work. That is the whole point of the Women in Red WikiProject, to counter systemic bias by writing women back into history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Women_in_Red

    I prefer the approach of Herodotus: to report on something no matter how outlandish it sounds, and record where the information came from, if it was observed first hand or from some other source.

    The “catholicsaints.info” source is obviously very flaky, or at least unsourced, yet there are some amazing things that turn up from time to time on these religious sites, or in their archives. Sometimes they lead to sources that can be tracked down, and sometimes have the sources themselves online. Perhaps they were once curated by a church archivist or historian, and were later taken over by someone more “communications” or “branding” -minded who cleaned out anything above a tenth-grade reading level. The most interesting thing I ever found was perhaps the defunct website for the Lebanese group that was into the hymnist Thekla the Nun, preserved in the Wayback Machine. From there I found enough search terms to locate the Greek manuscripts in a museum, as well as some English translations. Perhaps one day we will be able to listen to it on YouTube.

    We do have some major libraries around here; at the LOC (if it has reopened yet) you can bring something in and scan it to your USB drive, the USB connection is right in the scanner, from there it would be easy enough to upload to Internet Archive, assuming a proper copyright status.

    We wrote about Brigid here: https://genderdesk.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/icelandic-brynja-for-protection/ (for protection or lorica against plagues) https://genderdesk.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/mortalitas-hujus-anni-or-incantations-to-avoid-plague/ (a house blessing, Brigid’s straw cross, and a modern Brigid ‘lúireach’ or lorica at the end) Apparently Brigid has something to do with the Irish fire festival Imbolc as well https://genderdesk.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/not-just-for-groundhogs/

    >put to death and resurrected, three times
    This sounds like a magical formula from eastern Europe, I seem to recall a story about some Viking/Rus chieftain with the same “triple death” motif. But then there has always been a huge syncretism between paganism and Christianity, or for that matter, any other religion. Hmm, you might be interested in Barbara G. Walker’s The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, she connects the dots in some unexpected ways.

    An interesting question, what gets preserved for history. The hagiographies I seem to recall were used on a seasonal basis for observing the feast days, perhaps read out loud during a service? –so they were useful to the religious communities. But if you want to understand something you need more than history, perhaps archeology and architecture? For example, this might tell an interesting economic story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithe_barns_in_Europe

    Your own example of the addition of St. Keyne to St. Michael’s Mount sounds like an embellishment by a tour guide that got into a book somehow. Or perhaps just something misunderstood. It’s not on their official website, I checked the Wayback machine too. Did you try to contact the author to find out the source? Everyone is on twitter these days. Parts of the story are right, she is connected by other sources to that location, she is associated with establishing a well, but elsewhere, not there. And she and St. Michael are both associated with subduing snakes, or dragons, due to fossil formations in the area — and the snake/dragon might even count as a representation of the devil.

    At genderdesk we try to use religious artifacts for what they were originally intended for, spiritual enlightenment. And bare hagiography won’t do, the readership is fairly sophisticated, and perhaps cynical at times — they do write Wikipedia after all. We also try to rotate between various traditions. When you are dealing with Wikipedia’s toxic culture, you need all the divine intervention you can get.

  7. You certainly seem determined to dislike Canon Doble. I shall say no more.

    How delightful to find out about that Lebanese group on St Thecla! I would certainly much rather have these sorts of sites, however inaccurate, than not. As you say, they can give you leads.

    I didn’t write to anyone about the St Keyne legend. But then I quickly found that St Keyne is certainly associated with the mount through her Vita. But as you say, the details have got fuzzy in transmission. I have just done a post on the related question of whether any source records that St Michael appeared on the Mount in 495 *at all*. It seems not; and tracing the history of it, using Google Books, it is a process where misunderstandings get into the popular handbooks.

  8. Dislike? Not really, I haven’t even read him. Although looking now at the only example we seem to have online, he does seem to have put in plenty of documentation. https://genderdesk.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/st_gerent-a_cornish_saint.pdf But it does seem like if you wanted to know what female saints were up to you would, like, study them or something, in order to find out, instead of just dismissing them based on some preconceived notion of what a female saint should do. But without having what he actually wrote to hand, who can say.

    I have found an image search on google can sometimes yield interesting results, (since I like to use images), more so with various spellings and languages. Images float around the internet forever, especially on pinterest, and sometimes the originals have succumbed to link rot, but a copy will remain in Wayback or google cache. If you are lucky you can discover manuscripts in that way.

    This source seems to place the Mount of St. Micheal in Wales, but calls the story a fabrication. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t7np2027j&view=1up&seq=170&q1=keyna Attribution is “Cressy the Catholic writer”, might this be Cressy, HUGH PAULINUS SERENUS https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/hugh-paulinus-serenus-cressy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenus_de_Cressy

    It is true enough the Cornish saints seem to have all floated in from somewhere else. I have long suspected the locals just wanted to keep their local observances at their sacred wells, and renamed them out of convenience and deference to whatever religious authority was in power at the time.

    If you are interested in early church history you may like the virgin rebels of the desert, who were there to welcome St. Jerome when he arrived. This is also a bit of commentary on how law shapes religion. https://genderdesk.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/forgotten-rebel-virgins-of-the-desert/ Or perhaps Saint Lidwina, whose woodcuts have an example of the Flemish “Madona Lactans” and whose home town published one of the first books (called incunable or “cradle print”) to raise money to establish her sainthood — surely they expected a return on the investment in the form of income from pilgrims. https://genderdesk.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/the-dutch-saint-lidwina/

  9. There is a lengthy explanation here about William of Worcester, but I can’t say I understand it: “When once the indulgence had been appropriated by the Cornish house it became necessary to account for the allusions contained in it. The ecclesia quae ministerio angelico creditur et comprobatur consecrari et sanctificari demanded some point d’appui, and this could only be obtained by increasing the number of apparitions vouchsafed by St. Michael.” http://www.christopherlong.co.uk/pub/stmichaelsmount.html

    1. I need to read this when it is not 23:11 at night, for it is hard to follow, isn’t it. Interesting to read his account of William of Worcestre – the Itineraria isn’t online anywhere. Maybe it would make more sense if one could find it. (Cressy does not seem to be online either).

      But I suspect that Taylor has confused himself. The apparition at Mont-Saint-Michel in 708 (not 706) to St Aubert seems to be the same as the apparition of 710 when that abbey was consecrated. The “ecclesia quae ministerio angelico creditur et comprobatur consecrari et sanctificari” – “the church which by the ministry of an angel is believed and was confirmed to have been consecrated and sanctified”…

      But all this is speculation. Just about everything in William of Worcestre’s account of St Michael’s Mount is really about the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. Somebody showed that passages are verbally identical with a text explicitly about that abbey. So there is no need to suppose that someone unspecified needed to apply the indulgence to the Cornish priory. Will read tomorrow.

  10. Latin Wikipedia has a link to the Itineraria manuscripts. https://la.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Willelmus_Worcestre&oldid=3535151#Nexus_externi

    [Edit]

    Cressy is available online, but it looks like you need institutional sign-in https://www.worldcat.org/title/church-history-of-brittany-from-the-beginning-of-christianity-to-the-norman-conquest-under-roman-governours-brittish-kings-the-english-saxon-heptarchy-the-english-saxon-and-danish-monarchy-from-all-which-is-evidently-demonstrated-that-the-present-roman-catholick-religion-hath-from-the-beginning-without-interruption-or-change-been-professed-in-this-our-island-c/oclc/606628086

    The Christopher Long site has several more general St. Michael essays available through the landing page. http://www.christopherlong.co.uk/

    >“ecclesia quae ministerio angelico creditur et comprobatur consecrari et sanctificari
    Why is this in Latin all of a sudden? Could “ecclesia” be a reference to some Vatican committee/congregation/gathering? A committee that evaluates apparitions? https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ecclesia In any case — and I have only been able to get through about half of the thing with any comprehension — Taylor seems to be concerned mainly with whether various charters/documents are forgeries, if so, how much is forged. There are two separate questions, when was the apparition said to take place, and when did the apparition first appear in some historical document. FWIW Wikipedia has a section on it, their sources may be of interest to your inquiries. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Michael_(archangel)&oldid=1024739529#Christianity_2

    1. There are so many rabbit holes in all this, aren’t there? Commenting on a few:

      I greatly appreciate your discovery of the Rees volume at Hathi, with the suggestion that “the mount of St Michael” in St Cadoc and St Keyne might instead be somewhere near Abergavenny. There is a hill there called Skirrid Fawr which has a wikipedia article under some name in Welsh which I suspect nobody ever uses: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ysgyryd_Fawr. I think I’ll just add that to my post on the two, and leave it to others to venture down that rabbit hole and see what, if anything, lies at the bottom.

      Rees quotes Cressy, who seems to be translating the Life of St Keyne. Thank you for the link to Cressy. Sadly it is in EEBO – “Early English Books Online (Only to People at Very Privileged Universities But Paid for by Us)”. I have no access to this, sadly. But it doesn’t matter for our purposes.

      I get the impression that Cornwall was very thinly populated for most of its history, and even today. Indeed a friend of mine from my college days, who is a clergyman in west Cornwall, took me on a drive around his parish. There were many abandoned villages – something unthinkable in England – and much empty land.

      I looked at the manuscript of the Itineraria but found it unreadable – to me, at least. When the libraries are open properly, it will be possible to consult the editions.

      I assumed that the Latin above was a quote from a charter? (Isn’t it infuriating when people leave stuff untranslated?!) But “ecclesia” seems to be just “church” in this context, and refers to Mont-Saint-Michel, which the angel ordered St Aubert to build. As you say, Taylor is mainly concerned with the post-conquest charters which I had to ignore, in order to try and keep the scope of my enquiry within reasonable bounds.

      “There are two separate questions, when was the apparition said to take place, and when did the apparition first appear in some historical document.” — I think that these questions are the same question, in the absence of a time machine. For how else do we know that the apparition was “said to take place”, unless someone tells us, in a historical document of some sort? Someone has to record this, or we shan’t know.

  11. I don’t remember now but I’m pretty sure they had an actual key code for the public. On a side note, I once hit a library paywall and on a whim typed in my local public library code from my library card. It worked.

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