AN important department in Breton folk-lore is the hagiology of the province--the legendary lore of its saints. This, indeed, holds almost as much of the marvellous as its folk-tales, ballads, and historical legends, and in perusing the tales of Brittany's saintly heroes we have an opportunity of observing how the motifs of popular fiction and even of pagan belief reflect upon religious romance.
Just as some mythology is not in itself religious, but very often mere fiction fortuitously connected with the names of the gods, so hagiology is not of sacerdotal but popular origin. For the most part it describes the origin of its heroes and accounts for their miracles and marvellous deeds by various means, just as mythology does. It must be remembered that the primitive saint was in close touch with paganism, that, indeed, he had frequently to fight the Druid and the magician with his own weapons, and therefore we must not be surprised if in some of these tales we find him somewhat of a magician himself. But he is invariably on the side of light, and the things of darkness and evil shrink from contact with him.
Overlooking the valley of the Ellé, near the beautiful and historic village of Le Faouet, is a ledge of rock, approached by an almost inaccessible pathway. On this ledge stands the chapel of St Barbe, one of the strangest and most 'pagan' of the Breton saints. She protects those who seek her aid from sudden death,
especially death by lightning. Of recent years popular belief has extended her sphere of influence to cover those who travel by automobile! She is also regarded as the patroness of firemen, at whose annual dinner her statue, surrounded by flowers, presides. She is extremely popular in Brittany, and once a year, on the last Sunday of June, pilgrims arrive at Le Faouet to celebrate her festival. Each, as he passes the belfry which stands beside the path, pulls the bell-rope, and the young men make the tour of a small neighbouring chapel, dedicated to St Michel, Lord of Heights. Then they drink of a little fountain near at hand and purchase amulets, which are supposed to be a preservative against sudden death and which are known as 'Couronnes de Ste Barbe.' St Barbe is said to have been the daughter of a pagan father, and to have been so beautiful that he shut her up in a tower and permitted no one to go near her. She succeeded, however, in communicating with the outer world, and sent a letter to Origen of Alexandria, entreating him to instruct her in the Christian faith, as she had ceased to believe in the gods of her fathers. Origen dispatched one of his monks to her, and under his guidance she became a Christian. She was called upon to suffer for her faith, for she was brought before the Gallo-Roman proconsul, and, since she refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, was savagely maltreated, and sentenced to be beaten as she walked naked through the streets; but she raised her eyes to heaven and a cloud descended and hid her from the gaze of the impious mortals who would otherwise have witnessed her martyrdom. Subsequently she was spirited away to the top of a mountain, where, however, her presence was betrayed by a shepherd. Her pagan
father, learning of her hiding-place, quickly ascended the height and beheaded her with his own hand. The legends of St Barbe abound in strange details, which are more intelligible if we regard the Saint as being the survival of some elemental goddess connected with fire. The vengeance of heaven descended upon her enemies, for both her father and the shepherd who betrayed her were destroyed, the former being struck by lightning on his descent from the mountain, and the latter being turned into marble.
The legend of the foundation of the chapel at Le Faouet is illustrative of the strange powers of this saint. A Lord of Toulboudou, near Guémené, was overtaken by a severe thunderstorm while hunting. No shelter was available, and as the storm increased in fury the huntsmen trembled for their lives, and doubtless repeated with much fervour the old Breton charm:
which may be roughly translated:
The Lord of Toulboudou, however, was not content with praying to the Saint. He vowed that if by her intercession he was preserved from death he would raise a chapel to her honour on the narrow ledge of rock above. No sooner had he made this vow than the storm subsided, and safety was once more assured. In
the ancient archives of Le Faouet we read that on the 6th of July, 1489, John of Toulboudou bought of John of Bouteville, Lord of Faouet, a piece of ground on the flank of the Roche-Marche-Bran, twenty-five feet by sixteen feet, on which to build a chapel to the honour of St Barbe, and there the chapel stands to this day.
St Convoyon, first Abbot of Redon (or Rodon) and Bishop of Quimper, was of noble birth. He was born near Saint-Malo and educated at Vannes under Bishop Reginald, who ordained him as deacon and afterward as priest. Five clerks attached themselves to him, and the company went to dwell together in a forest near the river Vilaine, finally establishing themselves at Redon. The lord of that district was very favourably inclined toward the monastery and sent his son to be educated there, and when he himself fell sick and believed his last hours to be nigh he caused himself to be carried to this religious house, where his hair was shaven to the monastic pattern. Contrary to expectation, he recovered, and after settling his affairs at his castle he returned to Redon, where he died at a later date. St Convoyon had some difficulty in obtaining confirmation of the grants given to him by this seigneur. He set out with a disciple named Gwindeluc to seek the consent of Louis the Pious, taking with him a quantity of wax from his bees at Redon, intending to present it to the King, but he was refused admission to the royal presence. But Nomenoë, Governor of Brittany, visited Redon, and encouraged the Saint to endeavour once more to obtain the King's sanction, and this time Louis confirmed the grants.
So the monastery of Redon was built and its church erected, but, as the chroniclers tell us, "there was no saintly corpse under its altar to act as palladium to the monastery and work miracles to attract pilgrims." Convoyon therefore set out for Angers, accompanied by two of his monks, and found lodging there with a pious man named Hildwall. The latter inquired as to the object of their visit to Angers, and with considerable hesitation, and only after extracting a promise of secrecy, Convoyon confessed that they had come on a bodysnatching expedition. He asked his friend's advice as to what relics they should endeavour to secure. Hildwall told him that interred in the cathedral were the bones of St Apothemius, a bishop, of whom nothing was known save that he was a saint. His bones lay in a stone coffin which had a heavy lid. Hildwall added that several monks had attempted to steal the relics, but in vain. Convoyon and his monks bided their time for three days, and then on a dark night, armed with crowbars, they set out on their gruesome mission. They reached the cathedral, entered, and, after singing praises and hymns, raised the coffin lid. Securing the bones, they made off with them as quickly as possible, and in due course reached Redon with them in safety. The reception of the relics was celebrated by the monks with great pomp and ceremony. Miracles were at once performed, and the popularity of St Apothemius was firmly established.
When the Bishop of Vannes died, in 837, the see was filled by Susannus, who obtained it by bribery. Convoyon, grieved and indignant at the prevalence of corruption in the Church, urged Nomenoë to summon a council of bishops and abbots and endeavour to put
Click to enlarge
CONVOYON AND HIS MONKS CARRY OFF THE RELICS OF ST APOTHEMIUS
a stop to these deplorable practices. At this council the canons against simony were read; but the bishops retorted that they did not sell Holy Orders, and expected no fees--though they took presents! Susannus was, naturally enough, most emphatic about this. At length it was decided that a deputation should be sent to Rome to obtain an authoritative statement on the point, and that it should consist of Susannus of Vannes, Félix of Quimper, and Convoyon, who was to carry "gold crowns inlaid with Jewels" as a gift from Nomenoë to the Pope. The decision given by Pope Leo on the matter is far from clear. The Nantes chronicle asserts that Leo made Convoyon a duke, and gave him permission to wear a gold coronet. He also presented him with a valuable gift--the bones of St Marcellinus, Bishop of Rome and martyr, which Convoyon took back with him to Redon and deposited in his church there.
On a later day Nomenoë raised the standard of revolt against Charles the Bald of France--a circumstance alluded to in our historical sketch. He ravaged Poitou with sword and flame, but respected the abbey of Saint-Florent, though, to insult Charles, he forced the monks to place a statue of himself on their tower, with the face turned defiantly toward France. During Nomenoë's absence the monks sent news of his action to the hairless monarch, who tore down the statue and erected a white stone figure "of ludicrous appearance," its mocking face turned toward Brittany. In revenge Nomenoë burned Saint-Florent to the ground and carried off the spoils to enrich the abbey of Redon. The success of the Breton chief forced Charles to come to' terms. Nomenoë and his son, it was agreed, should
assume the insignia of royalty and hold Rennes, Nantes, and all Brittany.
Convoyon, as we have seen, benefited by the spoils won by the Breton champion. Later, as his abbey at Redon was situated by a tidal river, and was thus exposed to the ravages of the Normans, he and his monks moved farther inland to Plélan. There he died and was buried, about A.D. 868, but his body was afterward removed to Redon, where he had lived and laboured so long. His relics were dispersed during the troublous times of the Revolution.
St Tivisiau, or, more correctly, Turiau, has a large parish, as, although he was Bishop of Dol, we find him venerated as patron saint as far west as Landivisiau. He belongs to the earlier half of the seventh century, and, unlike most other Armorican ascetics, was of Breton origin, his father, Lelian, and his mother, Mageen, being graziers on the borders of the romantic and beautiful forest of Broceliande. The young Tivisiau was set to watch the sheep, and as he did so he steeped his soul in the beauty of the wonderful forest land about him, and his thoughts formed themselves into lays, which he sang as he tended his flock, for, like that other shepherd of old, King David, his exquisite voice could clothe his beautiful thoughts. The monastery of Balon stood near the lad's home, and often he would leave his sheep in the wilderness and steal away to listen to the monks chanting. Sometimes he joined in the service, and one day the Bishop of Dol, paying a visit to this outlying portion of his diocese, heard the sweet, clear notes of the boy's voice soaring above the lower tones of the
Click to enlarge
ST TIVISIAU, THE SHEPHERD SAINT
monks. Enthralled by its beauty, the Bishop made inquiries as to who the singer was, and Tivisiau being brought forward, the prelate asked him to sing to him. Again and again did he sing, till at last the Bishop, who had lingered as long as he might in the little out-of-the-world monastery to listen to the young songster, was obliged to take his departure. The boy's personality had, however, so won his affection that he arranged with the monks of Balon that he should take him to Dol, and so it came about that Tivisiau was educated at that ancient religious centre, where his voice was carefully trained. The Bishop made him his suffragan, and, later Abbot of Dol, and when at length he came to relinquish the burden of his office he named Tivisiau as his successor.
The story provides a noteworthy example of the power exercised in early times by a beautiful voice. But this love of music and the susceptibility to the emotion it calls forth are not peculiar to any century of Celtdom. Love of music, and the temperament that can hear the voice of the world's beauty, in music, in poetry, in the wild sea that breaks on desolate shores, or in the hushed wonder of hills and valleys, is as much a part of the Celt as are the thews and the sinews that have helped to carry him through the hard days of toil and poverty that have been the lot of so many of his race in their struggle for existence--whether in the far-off Outer Isles of the mist-wreathed and mystic west coast of Scotland, or among the Welsh mountains, or in picturesque Brittany, or in the distressful, beautiful, sorrow-haunted Green Isle.
At Landivisiau one finds much exquisite carving in the south porch, which is all that remains of the early
building to show how beautiful must have been the church to which it belonged. There is also a very ancient and picturesque fountain, known to tradition as that of St Tivisiau.
The legend of Nennocha is held to be pure fable, but is interesting nevertheless. It tells how a king in Wales, called Breochan, had fourteen sons, who all deserted him to preach the Gospel. Breochan then made a vow that if God would grant him another child he would give to the Church a tithe of all his gold and his lands, and later on his wife, Moneduc, bore him a daughter, whom they baptized Nennocha. Nennocha was sent away to a foster father and mother, returning home at the age of fourteen. A prince of Ireland sought her hand in marriage, but St Germain, who was then at her father's palace, persuaded her to embrace the religious life, and the disappointed King sadly gave his consent. A great multitude assembled to accompany the maiden in her renunciation of the world, "numbering in its midst four bishops and many priests and virgins." We are told how they all took ship together and sailed to Brittany. The Breton king gave the princess land at Ploermel, and there she founded a great monastery, where she lived till death claimed her.
Several old Breton songs tell us the story of St Enora (or Honora), the wife of Efflam (already alluded to in the chapter on Arthurian legend), but these accounts vary very considerably in their details. One account
giving us "stern facts" relates how St Efflam was betrothed for political reasons to Enora, a Saxon princess, and speaks of how impossible it was to expect that such a union could prove anything but disastrous when it was not a love match. So, whether partly to escape from a married life which jarred his susceptibilities, or entirely on account of his religious asceticism, Efflam left his wife and crossed to Brittany to lead the life of a religious hermit. One of the Breton songs gives the beginning of the story in a much more picturesque way. It relates how Enora, "beautiful as an angel," had many suitors, but would give her hand to none save the Prince Efflam, "son of a. stranger King." But Efflam, torn by the desire to lead the religious life, far away from the world, rose "in the midst of the night, his wedding night," and crept softly away, no one seeing him save his faithful dog, which he loved. So he came to the seashore and crossed to Brittany. The story of his landing and his meeting with Arthur has already been told, and we have seen how his fate was once more, by divine agency, linked with that of Enora. The song tells us how the angels carried the princess over the sea and set her on the door-sill of her husband's cell. Presently she awoke, and, finding herself there, she knocked three times and cried out to her husband that she was "his sweetheart, his wife," whom God had sent. St Efflam, knowing her voice, came out, and "with many godly words he took her hand in his." One account says that he sent her to the south of Brittany to found a convent for nuns, as he wished to devote his life entirely to the service of God and the contemplation of nature. All versions agree on the point that he built a hut for her beside his own, and one story relates how he made
her wear a veil over her face and only spoke to her through the door! But one Breton song with more of the matter of poetry in it than the rest tells how the little hut he built for her was shaded by green bushes and sheltered by a rock, and that there they lived, side by side, for a long and happy time, while the fame of the miracles they wrought spread through the land. Then one night some sailors on the sea "saw the sky open and heard a burst of heavenly music," and next, day when a poor woman took her sick child to Enora to beg for her aid she could get no response, and looking in she beheld the royal lady lying dead. The humble place was alight with her radiance, and near her a little boy in white was kneeling. The woman then ran to tell St Efflam of her discovery, only to find that he too, was lying dead in his cell.
The town of Corseul has sunk into insignificance, and its failure to achieve prosperity is said to be due to its covert hostility to St Malo--or, as he is more correctly called, Machutes. Coming to Brittany on missionary, enterprise, the Saint found that Christianity had not penetrated to the district of Corseul, where the old pagan worship still obtained. He therefore decided that his work must lie chiefly among the Curiosolites of that land, and determined that his first celebration of Easter Mass there should take place in the very centre of the pagan worship, the temple of Haute-Bécherel. The people of the district received him coldly, but without open hostility, and he and his monks, prepared for the Christian festival in the pagan shrine, to find to their dismay that they had omitted to bring
either chalice or wine for the Eucharist. Several of the monks were sent into the town to buy these, but in all Corseul they could find no one willing to sell either cup or wine, because of the hostility of the idolatrous folk of the place. At last the Saint performed a miracle to provide these necessaries, but he never forgave the insult to his religion, and while he founded monasteries broadcast over his diocese he avoided Corseul, and as Christianity became more and more universal the pagan town gradually paid the penalty of its enmity to the cause of Christ.
St Keenan (sixth century) was surnamed Colodoc, or "He who loves to lose himself," a beautiful epitome of his character. As in so many instances in the chronicles of Breton hagiology, confusion regarding St Keenan has arisen among a multiplicity of chronicles. He seems to have been a native of Connaught, whence he crossed into Wales and became a disciple of Gildas. He was told to "go forward" carrying a little bell, until he reached a place called Ros-ynys, where the bell would ring of itself, and there he would find rest. He asked Gildas to provide him with a bell, but the abbot could only supply him with a small piece of metal. Keenan, however, blessed this, and it grew until it was large enough for a good bell to be cast from it. Thus equipped, the Saint set out, and journeyed until he reached an arm of the sea, where he sat down on the grass to rest. While lying at his case he heard a herdsman call to his fellow: "Brother, have you seen my cows anywhere?" "Yes," replied the other, "I saw them at Ros-ynys." Rejoicing greatly at finding
himself in the vicinity of the place he sought, Keenan descended to the shore, which has since been called by his name. Greatly athirst, he struck a rock with his staff, and water gushed forth in answer to the stroke. Taking ship, he crossed the firth and entered a little wood. All at once, to his extreme joy, the bell he carried commenced to tinkle, and he knew he had reached the end of his journey--the valley of Ros-ynys, afterward St David's.
Later, deciding to cross to Brittany with his disciples, Keenan dispatched some of his company to beg for corn for their journey from a merchant at Landegu. They met with a gruff refusal, but the merchant mockingly informed them they could have the corn if they carried off the whole of his barge-load. When the Saint embarked the barge broke its moorings and floated after him all the way! He landed at Cléder, where he built a monastery, which he enriched with a copy of the Gospels transcribed by his own hand.
The fatal contest between King Arthur and Modred, his nephew, caused Keenan to return to Britain, and he is said to have been present at the battle of Camelot and to have comforted Guinevere after the death of her royal husband, exhorting her to enter a convent. He afterward returned to Cléder, where he died. The monastery fell into ruin, and the place of his burial was forgotten, till one night an angel appeared in a vision to one of the inhabitants of Cléder and bade him exhume the bones of the Saint, which he would find at a certain spot. This the man did, and the relics were recovered. A fragment of them is preserved in the cathedral of Saint-Brieuc. St Keenan is popularly known in Brittany as St Ké, or St Quay.
One very interesting and curious saint is St Nicholas, whose cult cannot be traced to any Christian source, and who is most probably the survival of some pagan divinity. He is specially the saint of seafaring men, and is believed to bring them good luck, asking nothing in return save that they shall visit his shrine whenever they happen to pass. This is a somewhat dilapidated chapel at Landévennec, of which the seamen seem to show their appreciation, if one may judge from the fact that the little path leading up to it is exceedingly well worn.
St Bieuzy was a friend and disciple of St Gildas. Flying from England at the coming of the Saxons, they crossed to Brittany and settled there, one of their favourite retreats being the exquisite La Roche-sur-Blavet, where they took up their abode in the shadow of the great rock and built a rough wooden shelter. The chapel there shows the 'bell' of St Gildas, and by the river is a great boulder hollowed like a chair, where Bieuzy was wont to sit and fish. St Bieuzy, however, possessed thaumaturgical resources of his own, having the gift of curing hydrophobia, and the hermitage of La Roche-sur-Blavet became so thronged by those seeking his aid that only by making a private way to the top of the great rock could he obtain respite to say his prayers. This gift of his was the cause of his tragic death. One day as he was celebrating Mass the servant of a pagan chief ran into the chapel, crying out that his master's dogs had gone mad, and demanding
that Bieuzy should come immediately and cure them. Bieuzy was unwilling to interrupt the sacred service and displeased at the irreverence of the demand, and the servant returned to his master, who rushed into the chapel and in his savage frenzy struck the Saint such a blow with his sword that he cleft his head in twain. The heroic Saint completed the celebration of Mass--the sword still in the wound--and then, followed by the whole congregation, he walked to the monastery of Rhuys, where he received the blessing of his beloved St Gildas, and fell dead at his feet. He was buried in the church, and a fountain at Rhuys was dedicated to him. It is satisfactory to note that the entire establishment of the murderer of the Saint is said to have perished of hydrophobia!
St Leonorius, or Léonore (sixth century), was a disciple of St Iltud, of Wales, and was ordained by St Dubricus; he crossed to Brittany in early life. The legend that most closely attaches to his name is one of the most beautiful of all the Breton beliefs, and is full of the poetry and romance that exist ' for the Celt in all the living things around him. The Saint and his monks had worked hard to till their ground--for the labours of holy men included many duties in addition to religious ministrations--but when they came to sow the seed they found that they had omitted to provide themselves with wheat! All their labour seemed in vain, and they were greatly distressed as to what they would do for food if they had no harvest to look forward to, when suddenly they saw, perched on a little wayside cross, a tiny robin redbreast holding in its beak an car of wheat! The
monks joyfully took the grain, and, sowing it, reaped an abundant harvest! Accounts vary somewhat in the details of this story. Some say that the bird led the monks to a store of grain, and others question the fact that the bird was a robin, but the popular idea is that the robin proffered the grain, and so universal and so strong is this belief that "Robin Redbreast's corn" is a byword in Brittany for "small beginnings that prosper."
The Saint is said to have possessed the most marvellous attainments. We are told that he learnt the alphabet in one day, the "art of spelling" the following day, and calligraphy the next! He is also said to have been a bishop at the age of fifteen. Tradition avers that. he ploughed the land with stags, and that an altar was brought to him from the depth of the sea by two wild pigeons to serve for his ministrations. The circumstance that animals or birds were employed--predominantly the latter--as the divine means of rendering aid to the Saint is common to many of these legends. We thus have saintly romance linked with the 'friendly animals' formula of folk-lore.
Many quaint and pretty stories are told of the childhood and youth of St Patern, the patron saint of Vannes. His intense religious fervour was probably inherited from his father, Petranus, who, we are told, left his wife and infant son and crossed to Ireland to embrace the life religious. One day as his mother sat by the open window making a dress for her baby she was called away, and left the little garment lying on the sill. A bird flew past, and, attracted by the soft woollen stuff,
carried it off to line its nest. A year later when the nest was destroyed the dress was discovered as fresh and clean as when it was stolen--a piece of symbolism foretelling the purity and holiness of the future saint.
As soon as the child could speak his mother sent him to school. She hoped great things from the quiet, earnest boy, in whom she had observed signs of fervent piety. One day he came home and asked his mother where his father was. "All the other boys have fathers," he said; "where is mine?" His mother sadly told him that his father, wishing to serve God more perfectly than it was possible for him to do at home, had gone to Ireland to become a monk. "Thither shall I go too, when I'm a man," said Patern, and he made a resolve that when he grew up he would also enter a monastery. Accordingly, having finished his studies in the monastery of Rhuys, he set out for Britain, where he founded two religious houses, and then crossed to Ireland, where he met his father. Eventually he returned to Vannes, as one of the nine bishops of Brittany, but he did not agree with his brethren regarding certain ecclesiastical laws, and at last, not wishing to "lose his patience," he abandoned his diocese and went to France, where he ended his days as a simple monk.
There is an interesting legend to account for the foundation of the church of St Patern at Vannes. We are told how for three years after Patern left Vannes the people were afflicted by a dreadful famine. No rain fell, and the distress was great. At length it was remembered that Patern had departed without giving the people his blessing, and at once "a pilgrimage set forth to bring back his sacred body, that it might rest
in his own episcopal town." But the body of the blessed Patern "refused to be removed," until one of the pilgrims, who had before denied the bishop a certain piece of ground, promised to gift it to his memory and to build a church on it to the Saint's honour, whereupon the body became light enough to be lifted from the grave and conveyed to Vannes. No sooner had the sacred corpse entered Vannes than rain fell in torrents. Hagiology abounds in instances of this description, which in many respects bring it into line with mythology.
We have already related the story of Samson's birth. Another legend regarding him tells how one day when the youths attached to the monastery where he dwelt were out winnowing corn one of the monks was bitten by an adder and fainted with fright. Samson ran to St Iltud to tell the news, with tears in his eyes, and begged to be allowed to attempt the cure of the monk. Iltud gave him permission, and Samson, full of faith and enthusiasm, rubbed the bite with oil, and by degrees the monk recovered. After this Samson's fame grew apace. Indeed, we are told that the monks grew jealous of him and attempted to poison him. He was ordained a bishop at York, and lived a most austere life, though his humanity was very apparent in his love for animals. He was made abbot of a monastery, and endeavoured to instil temperance into the monks, but at length gave up the attempt in despair and settled in a cave at the mouth of the Severn. Then one night "a tall man" appeared to him in a vision, and bade him go to Armorica, saying to him--so the legend goes: "Thou goest by the sea, and where thou wilt disembark thou
shalt find a well. Over this thou wilt build a church, and around it will group the houses forming the city of which thou wilt be a bishop." All of which came to pass, and for ages the town has been known as the episcopal city of Dol. Accompanied by forty monks, Samson crossed the Channel and landed in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc. One version of the story tells us that the Saint and numerous other monks fled from Britain to escape the Saxon tyranny, and that Samson and six of his suffragans who crossed the sea with him were known as the 'Seven Saints of Brittany.'
Few prosperous and wealthy countries produce saints in any great number, and in proof of the converse of this we find much hagiology in Brittany and Ireland. Let lawyers take note that while many saints spring from among the bourgeoisie they include few legal men. An outstanding exception to this rule is St Yves (or Yvo), probably the best known, and almost certainly the most beloved, saint in Brittany. St Yves is the only regularly canonized Breton saint. He was born at Kermartin, near Tréguier, in 1253, his father being lord of that place. The house where he first saw the light was pulled down in 1834, but the bed in which he was born is still preserved and shown. His name is borne by the majority of the inhabitants of the districts of Tréguier and Saint-Brieuc, and one authority tells us how "in the Breton tongue his praises are sung as follows:
This, in French, runs:
He began his legal education when he was fourteen, and studied law in the schools of Paris, becoming an ecclesiastical judge, and later (1285) an ordained priest and incumbent of Tredrig. Subsequently he was made incumbent of Lohanec, which post he held till his death. As a judge he possessed a quality rare in those days--he was inaccessible to bribery! That this was appreciated we find in the following bon mot:
He invariably endeavoured to induce disputants to settle their quarrels 'out of court' if possible, and applied his talents to defending the cause of the poor and oppressed, without fee. He was known as 'the poor man's advocate,' and to-day in the department of the Côtes-du-Nord, when a debtor repudiates his debt, the creditor will pay for a Mass to St Yves, in the hope that he will cause the defaulter to die within the year! St Yves de Vérité is the special patron of lawyers, and is represented in the mortier, or lawyer's cap, and robe.
St Yves spent most of his income in charity, turning his house into an orphanage, and many are the stories told of his humanity and generosity. The depth of his sympathy, and its practical result, are shown in an incident told us of how one morning he found a poor, half-naked man lying on his doorstep shivering with cold, having spent the night there. Yves gave up his
bed to the beggar the next night, and himself slept o the doorstep, desiring to learn by personal experience the sufferings of the poor. On another occasion, when being fitted with a new coat, he caught sight of a miserable man on the pavement outside who was clad in rags and tatters that showed his skin through many rents. Yves tore off the new coat and, rushing out, gave it to the beggar, saying to the astonished and horrified tailor: "There is plenty of wear still in my old coats. I will content myself with them." His pity, and generosity led him to still further kindness when he was visiting a hospital and saw how ill-clad some of the patients were, for he actually gave them the clothes he was wearing at the time, wrapping himself in a coverlet till he had other garments sent to him from home. He was wont to walk beside the ploughmen in the fields and teach them prayers. He would sit on the moors beside the shepherd-boys and instruct them in the use of the rosary; and often he would stop little children in the street, and gain their interest and affection by his gentleness.
His shrewd legal mind was of service to the poor in other ways than in the giving of advice. A story is told of how two rogues brought a heavy chest to a widow, declaring it to contain twelve hundred of gold and asking her to take charge of it. Some weeks later one of them returned, claimed the box, and removed it. A few days later the second of the men arrived and asked for the box, and when the poor woman could not produce it he took her to court and sued her for the gold it had contained. Yves, on hearing that the case was going against the woman, offered to defend her, and pleaded that his client was ready to restore the gold, but only to both the men who
Click to enlarge
ST YVES INSTRUCTING SHEPHERD-BOYS IN THE USE OF THE ROSARY
had committed it to her charge, and that therefore both must appear to claim it. This was a blow to the rogues, who attempted to escape, and, failing to do so, at length confessed that they had plotted to extort money from the widow, the chest containing nothing but pieces of old iron.
Yves was so eloquent and earnest a preacher that he was continually receiving requests to attend other churches, which he never refused. On the Good Friday before his death he preached in seven different parishes. He died at the age of fifty, and was buried at Tréguier. Duke John V, who founded the Chapelle du Duc, had a special regard for Yves, and erected a magnificent tomb to his memory, which was for three centuries the object of veneration in Brittany.
During the French Revolution the reliquary of St Yves was destroyed, but his bones were preserved and have been re-enshrined at Tréguier. His last will and testament--leaving all his goods to the poor--is preserved, together with his breviary, in the sacristy of the church at Minihy.
The Saint is generally represented with a cat as his symbol--typifying the lawyer's watchful character--but this hardly seems a fitting emblem for such a beautiful character as St Yves.
The legend of St Budoc of Dol presents several peculiar features. It was first recited by professional minstrels, then "passed into the sanctuary, and was read in prose in cathedral and church choirs as a narrative of facts," although it seems curious that it could have been held to be other than fiction.
A Count of Goelc, in Brittany, sought in marriage Azénor, "tall as a palm, bright as a star," but they had not been wedded a year when Azénor's father married again, and his new wife, jealous of her stepdaughter, hated her and determined to ruin her. Accordingly she set to work to implant suspicion as to Azénor's purity in the minds of her father and husband, and the Count shut his wife up in a tower and forbade her to speak to anyone. Here all the poor Countess could do was to pray to her patron saint, the Holy Bridget of Ireland. Her stepmother, however, was not content with the evil she had already wrought, and would not rest until she had brought about Azénor's death. She continued her calumnies, and at length the Count assembled all his barons and his court to judge his wife. The unfortunate and innocent Countess was brought into the hall for trial, and, seated on a little stool in the midst of the floor, the charges were read to her and she was called upon to give her reply. With tears she protested her innocence, but in spite of the fact that no proof could be brought against her she was sent in disgrace to her father in Brest. He in turn, sat in judgment upon her, and condemned her to death, the sentence being that she should be placed in a barrel and cast into the sea, "to be carried where the winds and tides listed." We are told that the barrel floated five months, "tossing up and down"--during which time Azénor was supplied with food by an angel, who passed it to her through the bung-hole.
During these five months, the legend continues, the poor Countess became a mother, the angel and St Bridget watching over her. As soon as the child was born his mother made the sign of the Cross upon him,
made him kiss a crucifix, and patiently waited the coming of an opportunity to have him baptized. The child began to speak while in the cask. At last the barrel rolled ashore at Youghal Harbour, in the county of Cork. An Irish peasant, thinking he had found a barrel of wine, was proceeding to tap it with a gimlet when he heard a voice from within say: "Do not injure the cask." Greatly astonished, the man demanded who was inside, and the voice replied: "I am a child desiring baptism. Go at once to the abbot of the monastery to which this land belongs, and bid him come and baptize me." The Irishman ran to the abbot with the message, but he not unnaturally declined to believe the story, till, with a true Hibernian touch, the peasant asked him if it were likely that he would have told 'his reverence' anything about his find had there been "anything better than a baby" in the barrel! Accordingly the abbot hastened to the shore, opened the cask, and freed the long-suffering Countess of Goelc and her son, the latter of whom he christened by the name of Budoc, and took under his care.
Meantime, the "wicked stepmother," failing ill and being at the point of death, became frightened when she thought of her sin against Azénor, and confessed the lies by which she had wrought the ruin of the Countess. The Count, overcome by remorse and grief, set out in quest of his wife. Good luck led him to Ireland, where he disembarked at Youghal and found his lost ones. With great rejoicing he had a stately ship made ready, and prepared to set out for Brittany with Azénor and Budoc, but died before he could embark. Azénor remained in Ireland and devoted herself to good works and to the training of her son, who from an early
age resolved to embrace the religious life, and was in due course made a monk by the Abbot of Youghal. His mother died, and on the death of the Abbot of Youghal he was elected to rule the monastery. Later, upon the death of the King of Ireland, the natives raised Budoc to the temporal and spiritual thrones making him King of Ireland and Bishop of Armagh. After two years he wished to retire from these honours, but the people were "wild with despair" at the tidings, and surrounded the palace lest he should escape. One night, while praying in his metropolitan church, an angel appeared to him, bidding him betake himself to Brittany. Going down to the seashore, it was indicated to him that he must make the voyage in a stone trough. On entering this it began to move, and he was borne across to Brittany, landing at Porspoder, in the diocese of Léon. The people of that district drew the stone coffer out of the water, and built a hermitage and a chapel for the Saint's convenience. Budoc dwelt for one year at Porspoder, but, "disliking the roar of the waves," he had his stone trough mounted on a cart, and yoking two oxen to it he set forth, resolved to follow them wherever they might go and establish himself at whatever place they might halt. The cart broke down at Plourin, and there Budoc settled for a short time; but trouble with disorderly nobles forced him to depart, and this time he went to Dol, where he was well received by St Malglorious, then its bishop, who soon after resigned his see to Budoc. The Saint ruled at Dol for twenty years, and died early in the seventh century.
Another Celtic myth of the same type is to be found on the shores of the Firth of Forth. The story in question deals with the birth of St Mungo, or St Kentigern, the
patron saint of Glasgow. His mother was Thenaw, the Christian daughter of the pagan King Lot of Lothian, brother-in-law of King Arthur, from his marriage with Arthur's sister Margawse. Thus the famous Gawaine would be Thenaw's brother. Thenaw met Ewen, the son of Hufeurien, King of Cumbria, and fell deeply in love with him, but her father discovered her disgrace and ordered her to be cast headlong from the summit of Traprain Law, once known as Dunpender, a mountain in East Lothian. A kindly fate watched over the princess, however, and she fell so softly from the eminence that she was uninjured. Such Christian subjects as Lot possessed begged her life. But if her father might have relented his Druids were inexorable. They branded her as a sorceress, and she was doomed to death by drowning. She was accordingly rowed out from Aberlady Bay to the vicinity of the Isle of May, where, seated in a skin boat, she was left to the mercy of the waves. In this terrible situation she cast herself upon the grace of Heaven, and her frail craft was wafted up the Forth, where it drifted ashore near Culross. At this spot Kentigern was born, and the mother and child were shortly afterward discovered by some shepherds, who placed them under the care of St Serf, Abbot of Culross. To these events the date A.D. 516 is assigned.
This legend is, of course, closely allied with those which recount the fate and adventures of the 'fatal children.' Like dipus, Romulus, Perseus, and others, Budoc and Kentigern are obviously 'fatal children,' as is evidenced by the circumstances of their birth. We
are not told that King Lot or Azénor's father had been warned that if their daughters had a son they would be slain by that child, but it is probably only the saintly nature of the subject of the stories which caused this circumstance to be omitted. Danaë, the mother of Perseus, we remember, was, when disgraced, shut up in a chest with her child, and committed to the waves, which carried her to the island of Seriphos, where she was duly rescued. Romulus and his brother Remus were thrown into the Tiber, and escaped a similar fate. The Princess Desonelle and her twin sons, in the old English metrical romance of Sir Torrent of Portugal, are also cast into the sea, but succeed in making the shore of a far country. All these children grow up endowed with marvellous beauty and strength, but their doom is upon them, and after numerous adventures they slay their fathers or some other unfortunate relative. But the most characteristic part of what seems an almost universal legend is that these children are born in the most obscure circumstances, afterward rising to a height of splendour which makes up for all they previously suffered. It is not necessary to explain nowadays that this is characteristic of nearly all sun-myths. The sun is born in obscurity, and rises to a height of splendour at midday. Thus in the majority of these legends we find the sun personified. It is not sufficient to object that such an elucidation smacks too much of the tactics of Max Müller to be accepted by modern students of folk-lore. The student of comparative myth who does not make use of the best in all systems of mythological elucidation is undone, for no one system will serve for all examples.
To those who may object, "Oh, but Kentigern was a
real person," I reply that I know many myths concerning 'real' people. For the matter of that, we assist in the manufacture of these every day of our lives, and it is quite a fallacy that legends cannot spring up concerning veritable historical personages, and even around living, breathing folk. And for the rest of it mythology and hagiology are hopelessly intermingled in their motifs.
Another Celtic saint besides Budoc possessed a stone boat. He is St Baldred, who, like Kentigern, hails from the Firth of Forth, and dwelt on the Bass Rock. He is said to have chosen this drear abode as a refuge from the eternal wars between the Picts and the Scots toward the close of the seventh century. From this point of vantage, and probably during seasons of truce, he rowed to the mainland to minister to the spiritual wants of the rude natives of Lothian. Inveresk seems to have been the eastern border of his 'Parish.' Tradition says that he was the second Bishop of Glasgow, and thus the successor of Kentigern, but the lack of all reliable data concerning the western see subsequent to the death of Glasgow's patron saint makes it impossible to say whether this statement is authentic or otherwise. Many miracles are attributed to Baldred, not the least striking of which is that concerning a rock to the east of Tantallon Castle, known as 'St Baldred's Boat.' At one time this rock was situated between the Bass and the adjacent mainland, and was a fruitful source of shipwreck. Baldred, pitying the mariners who had to navigate the Firth, and risk this danger, rowed out to the rock and mounted upon it; whereupon, at his simple nod, it was lifted up, and, like a ship
driven by the wind, was wafted to the nearest shore, where it thenceforth remained. This rock is sometimes called 'St Baldred's Coble,' or 'Cock-boat.' This species of miracle is more commonly discovered in the annals of hagiology than in those of pure myth, although in legend we occasionally find the landscape altered by order of supernatural or semi-supernatural beings.
One rather striking instance of miraculous crossing is that of St Noyala, who is said to have crossed to Brittany on the leaf of a tree, accompanied by her nurse. She was beheaded at Beignon, but walked to Pontivy carrying her head in her hands. A chapel at Pontivy is dedicated to her, and was remarkable in the eighteenth century for several interesting paintings on a gold ground depicting this legend.
We find this incident of miraculous crossing occurring in the stories of many of the Breton saints. A noteworthy instance is that of St Tugdual, who, with his followers, crossed in a ship which vanished when they disembarked. Still another example is found in the case of St Vougas, or Vie, who is specially venerated in Tréguennec. He is thought to have been an Irish bishop, and is believed to have mounted a stone and sailed across to Brittany upon it. This particular version of the popular belief may have sprung from the fact that there is a rock off the coast of Brittany called I the Ship,' from a fancied resemblance to one. In course of time this rock was affirmed to have been the ship of St Vougas.
There is a story of another Azénor, who, according to local history, married Yves, heritor of Kermorvan, in the
year 1400. A popular ballad of Cornouaille tells how this Azénor, who was surnamed 'the Pale,' did not love her lord, but gave her heart to another, the Clerk of Mezléan.
One day she sat musing by a forest fountain, dressed in a robe of yellow silk, wantonly plucking the flowers which grew on the mossy parapet of the spring and binding them into a bouquet for the Clerk of Mezléan. The Seigneur Yves, passing by on his white steed at a hand-gallop, observed her "with the corner of his eye," and conceived a violent love for her.
The Clerk of Mezléan had been true to Azénor for many a day, but he was poor and her parents would have none of him.
One morning as Azénor descended to the courtyard she observed great preparations on foot as if for a festival.
"For what reason," she said, "has this great fire been kindled, and why have they placed two spits in front of it? What is happening in this house, and why have these fiddlers come?"
Those whom she asked smiled meaningly.
"To-morrow is your wedding-day," said they.
At this Azénor the Pale grew still paler, and was long silent.
"If that be so," she said, "it will be well that I seek my marriage chamber early, for from my bed I shall not be raised except for burial."
That night her little page stole through the window.
"Lady," he said, "a great and brilliant company come hither. The Seigneur Yves is at their head, and behind him ride cavaliers and a long train of gentlemen. He is mounted on a white horse, with trappings of gold."
Azénor wept sorely.
"Unhappy the hour that he comes!" she cried, wringing her hands. "Unhappy be my father and mother who have done this thing!"
Sorely wept Azénor when going to the church that day. She set forth with her intended husband, riding on the crupper of his horse. Passing by Mezléan she said:
"I pray you let me enter this house, Seigneur, for I am fatigued with the journey, and would rest for a space."
"That may not be to-day," he replied; "to-morrow, if you wish it."
At this Azénor wept afresh, but was comforted by her little page. At the church door one could see that her heart was breaking.
"Approach, my daughter," said the aged priest. "Draw near, that I may place the ring upon your finger."
"Father," replied Azénor, "I beg of you not to force me to wed him whom I do not love."
"These are wicked words, my child. The Seigneur Yves is wealthy, he has gold and silver, châteaux and broad lands, but the Clerk of Mezléan is poor."
"Poor he may be, Father," murmured Azénor, "yet had I rather beg my bread with him than dwell softly with this other."
But her relentless parents would not hearken to her protestations, and she was wed to the Lord Yves. On arriving at her husband's house she was met by the Seigneur's mother, who received her graciously, but only one word did Azénor speak, that old refrain that runs through all ballad poetry.
"Tell me, O my mother," she said, "is my bed made?
"It is, my child," replied the châtelaine. "It is next to the Chamber of the Black Cavalier. Follow me and I will take you thither."
Once within the chamber, Azénor, wounded to the soul, fell upon her knees, her fair hair falling about her.
"My God," she cried, "have pity upon me!"
The Seigneur Yves sought out his mother.
"Mother of mine," said he, "where is my wife?"
"She sleeps in her high chamber," replied his mother. "Go to her and console her, for she is sadly in need of comfort."
The Seigneur entered. "Do you sleep?" he asked Azénor.
She turned in her bed and looked fixedly at him.
"Good morrow to you, widower," she said.
"By the saints," cried he, "what mean you? Why do you call me widower?"
"Seigneur," she said meaningly, "it is true that you are not a widower yet, but soon you will be."
Then, her mind wandering, she continued: "Here is my wedding gown; give it, I pray you, to my little servant, who has been so good to me and who carried my letters to the Clerk of Mezléan. Here is a new cloak which my mother broidered; give it to the priests who will sing Masses for my soul. For yourself you may take my crown and chaplet. Keep them well, I pray, as a souvenir of our wedding."
Who is that who arrives at the hamlet as the clocks are striking the hour? Is it the Clerk of Mezléan? Too late! Azénor is dead.
"I have seen the fountain beside which Azénor plucked flowers to make a bouquet for her 'sweet Clerk of Mezléan,'" says the Vicomte Hersart de la Villemarqué, "when the Seigneur of Kermorvan passed and withered with his glance her happiness and these flowers of love. Mezléan is in ruins, no one remains within its
gates, surmounted by a crenellated and machicolated gallery."
There is a subscription at the end of the ballad to the effect that it was written on a round table in the Manor of Hénan, near Pont-Aven, by the "bard of the old Seigneur," who dictated it to a damsel. "How come it," asks Villemarqué, "that in the Middle Ages we still find a seigneur of Brittany maintaining a domestic bard?" There is no good reason why a domestic bard should not have been found in the Brittany of medieval times, since such singers of the household were maintained in Ireland and Scotland until a relatively late date--up to the period of the 45 in the case of the latter country.
St Pol (or Paul) of Léon (sixth century) was the son of a Welsh prince, and, like so many of the Breton saints, he was a disciple of St Iltud, being also a fellow-student of St Samson and St Gildas. At the age of sixteen he left his home and crossed the sea to Brittany. In the course of time other young men congregated round him, and he became their superior, receiving holy orders along with twelve companions. Near these young monks dwelt Mark, the King of Vannes, who invited Pol to visit his territory and instruct his people. The Saint went to Vannes and was well received, but after dwelling for some time in that part of the country he felt the need of solitude once more, and entreated the King that he might have permission to depart and that he might be given a bell; "for," as the chronicler tells us, "at that time it was customary for kings to have seven bells rung before they sat down to meat."
The King, however, vexed that Pol should wish to leave him, refused to give him the bell, so the Saint went without it. Before leaving Vannes Pol visited his sister, who lived in solitude with other holy women on a little island, but when the time came for him to depart she wept and entreated him to stay, and the Saint remained with her for another three days. When he was finally taking leave of her, she begged him that as he was "powerful with God" he would grant her a request, and when Pol asked what it was she desired him to do, she explained that the island on which she dwelt was small "and incommodious for landing" and requested him to pray to God that it might be extended a little into the sea, with a "gentle shore." Pol said she had asked what was beyond his power, but suggested that they should pray that her desire might be granted. So they prayed, and the sea began to retreat, "leaving smooth, golden sand where before there had been only stormy waves." All the nuns came to see the miracle which had been wrought, and the sister of St Pol gathered pebbles and laid them round the land newly laid bare, and strewed them down the road that she and her brother had taken. These pebbles grew into tall pillars of rock, and the avenue thus formed is to this day called 'the Road of St Pol.' Thus do the peasants explain the Druidical circles and avenue on the islet.
After this miracle Pol departed, and rowed to the island of Ouessant, and later he travelled through Brittany, finally settling in the island of Batz, near the small town encompassed by mud walls which has since borne his name. There he founded a monastery. The island was at that time infested by a dreadful monster, sixty
feet long, and we are told how the Saint subdued this dragon. Accompanied by a warrior, he entered its den, tied his stole round its neck, and, giving it to his companion to lead, he followed them, beating the animal with his stick, until they came to the extremity of the island. There he took off the stole and commanded the dragon to fling itself into the sea-an order which the monster immediately obeyed. In the church on the island a stole is preserved which is said to be that of St Pol. Another story tells us how St Jaoua, nephew of St Pol, had to call in his uncle's aid in taming a wild bull which was devastating his cell. These incidents remind us of St Efflam's taming of the dragon. St Pol is one of the saints famous for his 'miraculous power over wild beasts.
The Saint's renown became such that the Breton king made him Archbishop of Léon, giving him special care and control of the city bearing his name. We are told how the Saint found wild bees swarming in a hollow tree, and, gathering the swarm, set them in a hive and taught the people how to get honey. He also found a wild sow with her litter and tamed them. The descendants of this progeny remained at Léon for many generations, and were regarded as royal beasts. Both of these stories are, of course, a picturesque way of saying that St Pol taught the people to cultivate bees and to keep pigs.
St Pol's early desire to possess a bell was curiously granted later, as one day when he was in the company of a Count who ruled the land under King Childebat a fisherman brought the Count a bell which he had picked up on the seashore. The Count gave it to St Pol, who smiled and told him how he had longed
and waited for years for such a bell. In the cathedral at Saint- Pol-de-Léon is a tiny bell which is said to have belonged to St Pol, and on the days of pardon "its notes still ring out over the heads of the faithful," and are supposed to be efficacious in curing headache or earache.
In the cathedral choir is the tomb of St Pol, where "his skull, an arm-bone, and a finger are encased in a little coffer, for the veneration of the devout." St Pol built the cathedral at Léon, and was its first bishop. Strategy had to be resorted to to secure the see for him. The Count gave Pol a letter to take in person to King Childebat, which stated that he had sent Pol to be ordained bishop and invested with the see of Léon, When the Saint discovered what the letter contained he wept, and implored the King to respect his great disinclination to become a bishop; but Childebat would not listen, and, calling for three bishops, he had him consecrated. The Saint was received with great joy by the people of Léon, and lived among them to a green old age.
In art St Pol is most generally represented with a dragon, and sometimes with a bell, or a cruse of water and a loaf of bread, symbolical of his frugal habits.
Of St Ronan there is told a tale of solemn warning to wives addicted to neglecting their children and "seeking their pleasure elsewhere," as it is succinctly expressed. St Ronan was an Irish bishop who came to Léon, where he retired into a hermitage in the forest of Névet. Grallo, the King of Brittany, was in the habit of visiting him in his cell, listening to his discourses, and putting theological questions to him. The domestic question
must have been a problem even in those days, since we find Grallo's Queen, Queban, in charge of her five-year-old daughter. Family cares proving rather irksome, Queban solved the difficulty of her daughter by putting the child into a box, with bread and milk to keep her quiet, while she amused herself with frivolous matters. Unfortunately, this ingeniously improvized crêche proved singularly unsuccessful, for the poor little girl choked on a piece of crust, and when the Queen next visited the child she found to her horror that she was dead. Terrified at the fatal result of her neglect, and not daring to confess what had happened, the Queen, being a woman of resource, closed the box and raised a hue and cry to find the girl, who she declared must have strayed. She rushed in search of her husband to St Ronan's cell, and upbraided the hermit for being the cause of the King's absence. "But for you," she declared, "my daughter would not have been lost!" But it was a fatal mistake to accuse the Saint, or to imagine that he could be deceived. Sternly rebuking her, he challenged her with the fact that the child. lay dead in a box, with milk and bread beside her! Rising, he left his cell, and, followed by the agitated royal couple, he led the way to where the proof of the Queen's neglect and deceit was found. Small mercy was shown in those days to erring womanhood, and the guilty Queen was instantly "stoned with stones till she died." The Saint completed his share in the matter by casting himself on his knees beside the child, whereupon she was restored to life.
St Goezenou (circ. A.D. 675) was a native of Britain whose parents crossed to Brittany and settled near Brest, where
Click to enlarge
QUEEN QUEBAN STONED TO DEATH
the Saint built an oratory and cabin for himself. The legend runs that the prince of the neighbourhood having offered to give him as much land as he could surround with a ditch in one day, the Saint took a fork and dragged it along the ground after him as he walked, in this way enclosing a league and a half of land, the fork as it trailed behind him making a furrow and throwing up an embankment, on a small scale. This story is quite probably a popular tradition, which grew up to explain the origin of old military earthworks in that part of the country, which were afterward utilized by the monks of St Goezenou.
It is also related of this worthy Saint that he had such a horror of women that he set up a huge menhir to mark the boundary beyond which no female was to pass under penalty of death. On one occasion a woman, either to test the extent of the Saint's power or from motives of enmity, pushed another woman who was with her past this landmark; but the innocent trespasser was unhurt and her assailant fell dead.
On one occasion, we are told, Goezenou asked a farmer's wife for some cream cheeses, but the woman, not wishing to part with them, declared that she had none. "You speak the truth," said the Saint. "You had some, but if you will now look in your cupboard you will find they have been turned into stone," and when the ungenerous housewife ran to her cupboard she found that this was so! The petrified cheeses were long preserved in the church of Goezenou--being removed during the Revolution, and afterward preserved in the manor of Kergivas.
Goezenou governed his church for twenty-four years, till he met with a violent death. Accompanied by his
brother St Magan, he went to Quimperlé to see the monastery which St Corbasius was building there, but he began to praise the architecture of his own church, and this so enraged the master builder that he dropped his hammer on the critic's head. To add to the grief of St Magan, St Corbasius endeavoured to appropriate the body of the murdered Saint. He consented, however, to allow St Magan to have such bones as he was able to identify as belonging to his brother, whereupon St Magan prayed all night, and next morning spread a sheet for the bones, which miraculously arranged themselves into an entire skeleton, which the sorrowing Magan was thus enabled to remove.
St Winwaloe, born about 455, was the son of Fragan, Governor of Léon, who had married a wealthy lady named Gwen. Their son was so beautiful that they named him Gwenaloe, or 'He that is white.' When the lad was about fifteen years old he was given to the care of a holy man, with whom he lived on the islet called Ile-Verte. One day a pirate fleet was sighted off the coast, near the harbour of Guic-sezne, and Winwaloe, who was with his father at the time, is said to have exclaimed, "I see a thousand sails," and to this day a cross which marks the spot is called 'the Cross of the Thousand Sails,' to commemorate the victory which Fragan and his son won over the pirates, who landed but were utterly defeated by the Governor and his retainers. During the fight Winwaloe, "like a second Moses," prayed for victory, and when the victory had been won he entreated his father to put the booty gained to a holy use and to build a monastery on the
site of the battle. This was done, and the monastery was called Loc-Christ.
Leaving his master after some years, Winwaloe settled on the island of Sein, but finding that it was exposed to the fury of every gale that blew from the Atlantic he left it and went to Landévennec, on the opposite side of the harbour at Brest. There he established a monastery, gathered round him many disciples, and dwelt there until his death, many years later. He died during the first week of Lent, "after bestowing a kiss of peace on his brethren," and his body is preserved at Montreuil-sur-Mer, his chasuble, alb, and bell being laid in the Jesuit church of St Charles at Antwerp.
In art St Winwaloe is represented vested as an abbot, with staff in one hand and a bell in the other, standing beside the sea, from which fishes arise as if in answer to the sound of his bell.