Monday, April 13, 2009
St Constantine of Cornwall and another St Michael's Mount!
Roche and Langonand
There are no surviving records of St Gonand, the patron of the little church at Roche. He may have been Conan, Abbot of King Athelstan's foundation at St Germans, but generally the town is named after the huge hermit's rock in the parish on the tope of an escarpment.Indeed, this may have been the mystical St Gonand of legend. There is a massive outcrop of granite and on top is the hermit's cell or living quarters. Above this are the remains of the chapel of St Michael built in 1409. This huge chapel dedicated to St Michael, the Archangel is common to Cornwall as there are many high places.
The form of the word Roche is presumably a reflection of the widespread use of French in the Middle Ages, where there were such great and interpersonal relations across the channel. There was a very popular Saint Roche from France who is portrayed in a wall painting in the church of St Thomas by Launceston.
Michael is one of the three named archangels named in the Bible. These are high angels who side with god against Lucifer the fallen angel. Michael appears in the book of Daniel as a 'great prince' in the struggle between good and evil.
It is the intercession and help of Michael that is invoked in the battle for God.
The 'Prayer of Exorcism of evil ' invokes Michael's help as the most powerful angel, God's general if you like.In the New Testament, the Apostle Jude mentions' The Archangel Michael contending with the devil' and of course in 'Revelations we read about Michael and his angels fighting aginst the dragon and his demons, the falling angels.
The Catholic prayer of exorcism runs
' Blessed Michael, archangel, defend us in the day of battle....by the power of God, cast down to Hell Satan and all his wicked spirits'.
There is also the tradition that he is the the guardian of the soul through the perils of death as is shwon in the song ;Michael row the boat ashore'
He was venerated by the Jews, before the formation of the Church, which adopted him from the beginning.His major feast day (wth Gabriel and Raphael) is on 29th Sepember and this was called 'Michaelmas' originally.
In 492 was the appearance of the the Archangel Michael in Mount Gargano in Italy and from that time Michael was always associated with high places (although the Skirryd was always associated with St Michael and his fiery sword)St Michaels Mount was a settlement of Celtic monks originally and was one of Cornwall's most holy sites of pilgrimage.The Count of Mortain, who after the Conquist became Overlord of Cornwall wore the badge of St Michael into battle, and indeed St Michael became the partron saint of Cornwall as well as of the Celts generally.He is parton of Helston
Our Visit on a rainy Easter Monday
It is difficult to describe the impressive building and the sight of it on top of this large outcrop of granite. It is an alternative St Michaels Mount set in the middle of the China Clay country. The hermitage, reached by an iron ladder is ruined. The lower part seems to be living quarters for the hermit and the upper part with an amazing view, sadly taking in a new housing development. Whether this hermit was the elusive Gonand, as seems likely as he is not mentioned anywhere else.You have to be very sure of foot to rise up to the top. The upper floor contains the remains of the chapel. The piscina is still to be seen there. There is a light in the East Window and a doorway into the chapel.It remains a romantic monument, but it is a shame that this unique building cannot be renovated for others to enjoy more safely. The outcrop is surrounded by thick gorse, which now, in the spring is in full bloom and looks amazing. The chapel, small though it is, is perched high on the rock and you can quite easily imagine that an archangel resides in there beating off all evil. I am sure the saintly Gonand or Conan also enjoyed his wonderful location in which to praise God.
Just above the creek aboe the Helford River is the parish near Constantine Bay . There remain the ruin of a chapel and a holy well, which is now set on the golf links near Padstow. Constantine was a King of Cornwall, no doubt named after the famour Emperor who made Christianity legal, and after whom was named Constantinople in Trukey (now 'Istanbul') which is what it was named after the Turkish invaders had conquered this outpost of the Christian Roman Empire.Our King Constantine was a rular of a small part of the country , a local chieftain found in Celtic times. Constantine was a warlike chieftain, he was bound to keep his patch of land free form invaders, and make sure his people were fed. However , when his beloved wife died, he gave up his throne and became a monk in Irland, leaving his son to rule.
His identity was only discovered there after he laughed one day, while making flour
'King Contantine of Cornwall-and he is working at the mill' Perhaps when he had spent his time in Ireland, he returned to this lovely part of Cornwall to worship and to pray in his last days/There is an account of Contantine also being linked with St Columba in Scotland. He was the saintly King of the Cornish and he came to be respected and venerated also in Wales. It is also thought he may have been converted to the faith by St Petroc .His feast day is March 9th.
On the heavily overcast and rainy day, which was Easter Monday, we drove fromPadstow to Trevone and turned off to Harlyn Bay and Headed for the trevose Golf Club. We managed to drive to the inks and soon found the footpath to the site. We were quite surprsed to see the modern cover for the Holy Well (marked onthe OS map)underneath was the ancient sqare walls of the well and inside that the cspring had been contained. We needed to walk for some while to find the small ruined chapel, or which only a foundation and a single archway is left standing. The thought of Constantine living in a small nearby hut (possibly beehive hut) along side this chapel and his well, where he would pray and his priest would say Mass for him.Of course it was a bleak rainy day, but no doubt the circular wall, which would have circumvented the site and been cleared and blessed and consecrated.No doubt much of the stone had been taken for local homes and for laying out the golf course.But the little area takes us back to that wonderful time of the Saints,whao travelled all over the Cetic world.