Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who were St Nectan and St Piranof Cornwall? ,Jersey Home Story

Left is the current website of St Nectan's Glen, where the owners are not specifically dedicated to the Catholic Saint, St Nectan but to the 'Mother Earth' religion However, people of all faiths are welcomed at St Nectan's shrine by the owners, where he worshipped said the psalms and stayed at many times-possibly in the summer, the winters being spent at Hartland Abbey.This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, the glen and hermitage of St Nectan is tranquil and beautiful)Bear in mind the owners are not Christians but of Earth perhaps Druidical religion but do welcome people from the Catholic faith who wish to venerate St Nectan, reputedly buried here.The Hermitage itself serves food and refreshments. There is a higher footpath for people with mobility problems.(Telephone below)

We have visited St Nectan's Glen ever since we started coming to Cornwall on our holidays.The Hermitage and waterfall lie between Tintagel/Bossiney coast road and Boscastle. It is signposted from the road, but you need to park there in the car park and it is a long, but beautiful walk through amazing woodland. We used to take our young son there with my mother and look for Easter Eggs. The climb up to the hermitage is quite hard going. The hamlet where the small road goes is called Threthevy. What always attracted us was that we could take our little dog.There is another approach as well which appears behind the hermitage.(Telephone 01840 770760-The Hermitage, St Nectan's Glen, Thethevy, Cornwall PL34 0BE email:barry@stnectan.fsnet.co.uk)

When you first turn into the small road going up to the waterfall, you pass the Holy Well of St Piran and his chapel.He was the most popular saint in Cornwall. Piran or Perryn made the customary journey from South Wales into Corwall and from there to Brittany, doing a white Martyrdom, leaving living impressions everywhere. In south Wales there was a Mediaeval Chapel of St Piran at Cardiff, and this was so honoured, as Catherine Rachel John writes 'the English King Henry II went to hear Mass there on Low Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Day)when he was visiting South Wales.

In Brittany, Piran is widely celebrated . His name is found in a number of dedications and place names, for example Saint Perran south of Baint Brieuc; also in official church calendars, and prayer books for clerics and lay people-The Breviary for the Diocese of Leon and its Book of Hours where he is referred to as a Bishop.At Trezeide near St Pol de Leon, Saint Piran, its patron, commemorated not only by his statue in the church. but also by a wayside shrine , almost a little oratory,with a very simple, impressive statue of the saint his hands raised in prayer'. (p68 The Saints of Cornwall 1500 years of Christian Landscape, pub Tabb House,7 Church Street, Padstow, Cornwall PL28 8BG ISBN 1 873951 39 6 £10.00 illustrated).

The best known holy place of Cornwall for St Piran is Perranporth, where Catherine writes 'the place still retains some of the holiness of beauty for three seasons of the year.'She supposes Piran landed there from Wales and founded his first chapel at Perranzabuloe-Perran on the sands. She goes on very perceptively 'and the history of this has been a continuous struggle with the encroaching sands , perhaps reflecting the struggle for the souls of the Cornish people , as a modern poet has suggested.' The building raised by Piran was abandoned in the ninth century(the centre of the small monastery)and in due course it was lost in the sands. In 180 it was reveled again with shifting sands and since then people have tried to preserve it, but this has proved impossible, although the cross is still visible . ON higher ground a new parish church has been built ,after hundreds ofyears this had been eroded to and a third built. This is well inland. Nearby is another st Piran's Well and also St Piran's cwm (coombe) is valley.There are many places connected with him Pol-perro, Perranarworthal,Perran Uthnoe and Perran Downs.It is possible that the Bossinney site was perhaps one of the first, St Piran inhabited when he arrived in Cornwall. The nearby farmhouse probably containing stone from the original monastery, which would perhaps originally been begun in wattles and mud. St Piran's Well is well preserved and is the first thing you see when leaving the road.It is reputed to have had healing qualities left by the saint , where he used to baptise people.As I mentioned in my Welsh broadcasts, these wells were often very close to the Welsh people and Cornish. They were points where the inner world met the outer and were blessed by the Saint in the name of the Trinity, and a way to join the family of God. Just behind is the small St Piran's chapel. This has been restored, and is obviously occasionally in use. It is a simple stone building with a small gabled roof and must have been a later reincarnation of St Piran's original mud and wattle church.The whole stands in a beautiful glen overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and you can imagine the Saint Standing looking over the sea and the glorious sunsets at that location.

'Becoming increasingly familiar is the Cornish flag, nown as the flag of St Piran . The white cross on a black background symbolises the Gospel triumphing over falsehood, good over evil the tin among the ore.'Catherine Rachel John.

Walking from St Piran's Glen down to st Nectan, you walk down a long footpath, also road for those who live in the small cottages and rather larger detatched houses with drives from the path , we come down into the beautiful 'fairy wood' as my son used to call it. The track runs through the wood , thougha riot of different trees, wood anenomies,bluebells and wild garlics. The smell in the spring and the parculiarly earthy smell is wonderful. There is another path which avoids the difficult ascent to the favourites . Celtic monks (as I have spoken about in my may 'Mary in Monmouth 'broadcasts, available free from iTunes Store, and via rss on the bottom of this blog.Springs and waterfalls were especially holy places to go as in Catholic terminology, spirngs and waterfalls have always been spiritual symbols, whereas the sea, always symbolises death (Jonah and the Whale. Noah's arc.) aslo the Celtic Saints set of on their boats from Wales and other places over the sea to see where God brought them. It brought Materians, Queen of Ynyr Gwent of the ancient Kingdom of Gwent (Monmouthshire) to Boscastle and seemingly Piran as well. So they had conquered the sea and symbolically come to a promised land to serve God.

Like St Gwladys of Gwent (Gwynlliw's wife) he was a eldest child of Brychan Brycheiniog (had many children!!!!) of Talgarth,Brecon (which took its name from the chief)(check the adwen genealogy)His name is found in Devon and Brittany and Cornwall. There is a little church at Loswithiel , whichhas been carefully restored and well looked after by St Winnow Parish. Harland Abey is where he was particularly honoured and the Life of the Saint which was read there on his feast day has survived. This 'charmingly tells us of how his brothers and sisters who also settled in Cornwall would gather together at Nectan's dwelling place just after Christmas, to discuss the nature of God. It also tells us the story of how he was martyred by beheading by two robbers who had gone off with two cows 'very good milkers' and whom he had tried to convert to the holy Catholic faith. Catherine also writes 'A page has survived of the manuscript giving the Mass to be sung on St Nectan's Day June 17th 'Guarding they people, O Nectan, companion of martyrs, pray for us now and always... ' He has not been forgotton in the Hartland area where the Man from the Sea has been celebrated in music and poetry'.

Celtic monks always sought places of natural beauty to pray, and the Glen and Hermitage is no exception. Here the owner still lives in the Hermitage, and beneath this is reputed to be the ste of St Nectan's Cell. Slate steps lead to the chapel and the rear bedrock wall forma s natural altar. Until recent times the cell has not been opened to the public but as increasing numbers of visitors are realising the spiritual benefits of te place the owners are allowing access to the shrine for adults. This is a place to sit, meditate, pray and soak up the atmosphere of the place.

IT has always been the case that natural places and spring water have been good places to pray, and be close to nature, a lovely place to pray as Nectan found.

Here is a little Irish poem of the same period,of such a monk as Nectan in his cell, translated by Oliver Davies in 'Celtic Spirituality' Paulis Press NY available amazon.

ALL ALONE IN MY LITTLE CELL without the company of anyone;precious has the pilgrimage before going to meet death.

A hidden, secluded little hut, for the forgiveness of my sins, an upright, untroubled conscience towards holy heaven.

Sanctifying my body by good habits, trampling like a man upon it with weak and tearful eyes for the forgiveness of my passions.

Passions weak and withered, renouncing this wretched world, pure and eager thoughts, letthis be a prayer to God.

Heartfelt Lament to Cloudy heaven, sincere and truly devout confessions, with showers of tears.

My food as benefits my station, precious has been my captivity. My dinner without doubt, would not make me full-blooded.

Treading the paths of the gospel, singing hymns at every hour, and end of talking and long stories , constatnt bending of the knees.

May my Creator visit me, my Lord, my King; may my spirit seek him in the everlasting Kingdom where he dwells.

Let this be an end of vice in the enclosures of churches, a lovely little cell among the graves and I there alone.

All alone in my little cell, all alone thus; alone came I into the world, alone will I go out of it.

If I myself have sinned through the pride of this world, hear me lament for it all alone, O my God.

In the Name of the the Holy Three +

Haut de la Garenne latest,Emetrios Panton writes about he was abused in a home in Islaington. It seemed at that time, that there was no notice taken of any qualifications held by these people hired to look after these children except cheapness of rates! A very different etos to children existed in those days,and teir treatment much harsher, but some of these people are truly evil. This excerpt really moved me

It is emerging now that the victims repeatedly begged for help. Why did no one listen?

I have a pretty good idea why not, given how viciously the politically-correct establishment silenced me about the similar paedophile ring which raped me.

I was sexually abused by two male workers in children's homes in Islington, North London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was unusual, a kid who did not seek escape through drugs or suicide.

But I did run away and never again attended school. I spent my days at my local library, educated myself and went on to university, desperately hoping I could make someone listen. No-one did.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, I wrote reports on my abusers, demanding an inquiry.

In 1992, I even lobbied Margaret Hodge's office - she was then council leader - and met her stand-in, Stephen Twigg, now also a Labour MP. He did nothing.

The truth only emerged thanks to a three-year newspaper campaign which revealed that all of Islington's 12 children's homes were run by, or included, staff who were paedophiles, child pornographers or pimps.

Chill your blood, did mine! And why did the government not listen? Childcare is underpaid and undervalued. Why remove these children from homes which are abusive to put them here? God bless them all. The link to the complete article is on the right hand side.

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