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28 July

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 28 July =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Samson of Dol * St. Arduinus of Trepino
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 27, 2013
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      Celtic and Old English Saints 28 July

      * St. Samson of Dol
      * St. Arduinus of Trepino

      St. Samson (Sampson) Bishop of Dol, Brittany
      Born in Glamorgan, Wales, c. 485; died at Dol, Brittany, France, July
      28, c. 565. The existing "vita" of Saint Samson may be the earliest
      biography of a British Celtic saint, but scholarly opinion is divided on
      whether it was written in the 7th century (within 50 years of his death)
      or the 9th. The earliest manuscripts date only from the 11th century.

      He was one of the greatest missionaries ever to come from Britain. His
      parents--Ammon, a lord of Glamorgan, and Anna of Gwent-- dedicated him
      to the service of God because he was a "child of promise" after his
      parents prolonged period of childlessness. According to his biography
      he was raised in the abbey of Llanwit Major in Glamorgan, which at that
      time was ruled by Saint Illtyd (f.d. November 6), who ordained him
      deacon and priest.

      After Samson's ordination an attempt was made on his life by two nephews
      of Saint Illtyd, who were jealous of his ordination. So Samson left the
      community and lived for a time under Piro on the island of Caldey (Ynys
      Byr) off the coast of Pembrokeshire, where he served as cellarer. His
      father and his uncle, Umbrafel, joined him there after his father had
      recovered from a serious illness during which he received the last rites
      from his son. When Piro died, Samson succeeded him as abbot of Caldey
      Abbey, but he resigned after a preaching tour to Ireland.

      He returned to Wales, where he lived as a hermit with his father and two
      others in a retreat near the mouth of the Severn River. Then he
      travelled to Cornwall, where he was consecrated bishop of Saint Dyfrig
      (Dubricius; f.d. November 14), bishop of Caerleon, and appointed abbot
      of its monastery. Samson travelled throughout Cornwall where he worked
      as a missionary, founded monasteries and churches at Padstow, Saint Kew,
      Southill, and Golant, probably visited the Scilly Islands, and gathered
      to himself disciples, such as Saints Austell (f.d. June 28), Mewan (f.d.
      June 21), and Winnoc (f.d. November 6) (which doesn't make sense because
      Winnoc died in 717).

      Finally, Samson crossed the Channel to Armorica, where he landed at the
      mouth of the Guyoult, to continue his missionary activities in Brittany.
      Privatus, a Gallo-Roman, gave him a stretch of land nearby on which to
      build a monastery c. 525, and this became the site of the future town of

      Under his leadership, Dol became the spiritual centre of Brittany. A
      vigorous organiser and a zealous preacher, Saint Samson established
      numerous other abbeys, including Pental in Normandy, and spread the word
      of God far and wide. It appears that he exercised episcopal
      jurisdiction at Dol, although it was not a regular see until much later.
      He is probably the 'Samson peccator episcopus' who signed the acts of
      the Council of Paris (557).

      His concern for justice, as well as the temporal importance of his
      position as bishop and abbot, often involved him in political affairs.
      When Conomor (Conmor) murdered the king of Domnonia and usurped the
      throne that rightly belonged to the Breton ruler Judwal (Judual), Saint
      Samson journeyed to Paris where, with the support of Saint Germain (f.d.
      May 28) the bishop of Paris, he enlisted the help of the Frankish King
      Childebert. On his return he travelled down the Seine and founded an
      establishment for penitents at Vernier.

      On a second visit to Paris he was granted lands in the region of Rennes
      and was also given jurisdiction over the Channel Islands-- and indeed
      it was from the Isle of Guernsey, where one town bears his name, that he
      and Judwal embarked on their campaign to depose the usurper Conomor.
      After three battles, Judwal won back his kingdom and Samson returned to
      his bishopric and monastery at Dol.

      Towards the end of his life, when he felt that his end was near, he
      undertook an extensive journey throughout the whole of Neustria, a
      journey of which the Breton bards have left us a moving account.
      Accompanied by seven monks, seven disciples and seven escorts, he
      travelled slowly from parish to parish, often stopping to preach or to
      celebrate the Divine Offering, bringing his mission to an end only with
      his death.

      Many miraculous deed were attributed to Saint Samson, to which his
      anonymous biographer gives ample space. Recent research seems to
      demonstrate that Samson was the leading churchman of the colonists from
      Britain who founded Brittany, and a primary figure in the history of the
      evangelization of Cornwall and the Channel Islands.

      Some of his relics, including an arm and a crozier, were acquired by
      King Athelstan of Wessex (924-939), for his monastery at Milton Abbas in
      Dorset, which is why Samson's feast is kept in many places in England.
      In addition, there are six ancient dedications there to him, as well as
      others in Cornwall and Brittany. Samson's name is still revered
      enthusiastically throughout Brittany and Wales. Usuard entered his name
      into the "Roman Martyrology" (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney,
      Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Taylor).

      Several early lives of Samson exist. The oldest, printed by Mabillon in
      h is "Acta Sanctorum" from a MS. at Citeaux, and again by the
      Bollandists, claims to be compiled from information derived from
      Samson's contemporaries, which would refer it to about 600. Dom Plaine
      in the "Analecta Bollandiana" has edited another and fuller life (from
      MS. Andeg., 719), which he regards as earlier than Mabillion's. Later
      lives are numerous.

      In art, Samson is depicted with a cross or staff together with a dove
      and book (Farmer).

      "The Life of Saint Samson of Dol"
      by Thomas Taylor, on line at:

      Icon of St Samson of Dol

      Troparion of St Samson tone 3
      Thy resplendent life, O holy Samson,/ enlightened all thy kindred./ They
      followed thee in the monastic life/ and themselves became shining
      lights./ When consecrated Hierarch thou didst obey the heavenly vision/
      and build monasteries to God's glory in Brittany./ Pray to Christ our
      God to grant us His great mercy.

      Athlète de la grâce et maître de tempérance, tu as illuminé les îles par ta
      vertu, tel un phare spirituel. Imitateur des apôtres, tu as répandu la
      semence de la connaissance du Dieu trine. Saint pontife Samson, prie le pour
      qu'Il accorde à nos âmes le salut.

      St. Arduinus (Ardwyne, Ardoin) of Ceprano
      7th century. Saint Arduinus is patron of Trepino in southern Italy. An
      improbable legend makes him one of four English pilgrims who died in
      this region in the 7th century (Benedictines).


      Attwater, D. (1958). A Dictionary of Saints. New York:
      P. J. Kenedy & Sons.

      Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
      (1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

      Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY:
      Doubleday Image.

      Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints. (1966).
      Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

      Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
      Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Taylor, T. (1925). The Life of Saint Samson of Dol.

      For All the Saints: - new active link

      Orthodox Ireland Saints

      An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West - new active link

      These Lives are archived at:
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