St Petroc – the founder of Padstow.
If you are going to Cornwall this summer, you will almost certainly come across references to the Patron Saint of Cornwall, St Petroc, whose festival is on 4th June. Petroc lived in the 6th Century and after many adventures (including taming wolves in India) he returned to found a monastery at Lanwethinoc which became known as Petroc’s Stow, now Padstow. It was a popular place even in those days, and after serving as Abbot for 30 years Petroc set off in search of peace and quiet, establishing another monastery at Little Petherick (Nanceventon).
Unfortunately, his popularity was such that the crowds eventually followed him, and after a while he took himself off again to the remote wilds of Bodmin Moor, where he lived as a hermit. But his peace was short lived, as 12 monks came to join him. Petroc kept them housed in a monastery on a hilltop, while he remained in a cell by the river.
Even here Petroc was not alone. One day a terrified stag came rushing through the woods, pursued by the hunt. Petroc flung open the door of his cell, and the exhausted animal took refuge. When the huntsmen arrived on the scene, they did not dare to argue with the famous holy man and went their way. The stag became tame and stayed with Petroc, which is why you will see images of Petroc with a stag as his special emblem.
Even in death he wasn’t left alone. Initially buried in the monastery in Padstow, in c.1000 his remains, with his shrine and relics, were moved to Bodmin. In 1177 they were stolen and taken to Brittany but Henry II intervened and everything but a rib bone was eventually returned. Finally he has been allowed to rest in peace.
May you enjoy a little peace and quiet, as well as fun and adventure, wherever you are this summer.
Julia Douëtil. - Editor