Archive for March 5, 2018

Bilfrid, Hermit in Lindisfarne

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2018 by citydesert

“Bilfrid was a Benedictine hermit, the silversmith who bound the Lindisfarne Gospels. He was a hermit in Lindisfarne, England, off the coast of Northumbria, in northern England, where he aided Bishop Eaddfrid in preparing the binding of that masterpiece. He used gold, silver, and gems to bind the famous copy of the Gospels of St. Cuthbert. His relics were enshrined in Durham, England, in the eleventh century.”


“Billfrid, before he became a hermit, was a distinguished goldsmith and was venerated as a saint during his life and after his death. St.Ethelwold commissioned him to make a cover for the precious Gospels of the Abbey at Lindisfarne. The history of this manuscript is known from a note written at the end of the book when the monks who guarded it and the body of St. Cuthbert were at Chester-le-Street: “Eadfrith, Bishop of the church at Lindisfarne, he first wrote this book for God and St.Cuthbert and for all the saints in common that are in the island, and Ethilwald, Bishop of those of Lindisfarne Island, bound and covered it outwardly as well as he could. And Billfrith the anchorite he wrought as a smith the ornaments on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems, and also with silver over-gilded, a treasure without deceit”.!topic/celtic-daily/j7VR7ipqKso



St Mark the Ascetic

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2018 by citydesert

March 5 is the Commemoration of St Mark the Ascetic.

Mark ascetic 1

“St. Mark was an ascetic and miracle-worker, sometimes known as Mark the Faster. In his 40th year he was tonsured a monk by his teacher, St. John Chrysostom. Mark then spent 60 more years in the wilderness of Nitria (a desert in Lower Egypt) in fasting and prayer, and in writing many spiritual works concerning the salvation of souls. He knew all the Holy Scriptures by heart. He was very merciful and kind, and wept much for the misfortunes that had befallen all of God’s creation.

On one occasion, when weeping over a hyena’s blind whelp, he prayed to God and the whelp received its sight. In thanksgiving the mother hyena brought him a sheepskin. The saint forbade the hyena in the future to kill any more sheep belonging to poor people. He received Communion at the hands of angels. His homilies concerned such topics as the spiritual law, repentance, sobriety, and are ranked among the preeminent literature of the Church. These works were praised by the Patriarch Photius the Great himself.”


Mark ascetic 2

“Saint Mark the Ascetic was born in Athens during the fifth century, and became a monk in the Nitrian desert (Lower Egypt). From his youth his fondest pursuit was the reading of Holy Scripture. It is said that he knew the whole Bible by heart.

Nine of his thirty discourses have come down to us. Three of them are in Volume I of the English PHILOKALIA. The Byzantines had such a high regard for his writings that they said, “Sell everything and buy Mark.”

He was noted for his gentleness and purity of soul. He was known as “the Ascetic” because of his abstinence. He lived for ninety years as a solitary, then surrendered his soul to God when he was one hundred and twenty years old.”


Mark ascetic 4


Thy soul was divinely illumined, O Mark; thou didst shine as a bright light in the world and put to flight its darkness. Thou didst persuade all to seek their lost treasure even the grace of the Holy Spirit. Entreat Him to grant us His great mercy.

Mark ascetic 5

See also:

Instructions of Blessed Mark the Ascetic:

Brief life and selected quotes from St. Mark the Ascetic:



St Piran

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2018 by citydesert

March 5 is the Commemoration of St Piran’s Day – Gool Peran.

 Piran 1

“St Piran, is the patron saint of both Cornwall and tin miners.

He was a 5th century Cornish abbot, originally from Ireland.

Legend has it that he was viciously strapped to a mill-stone by Irish heathens, who then rolled him over a cliff into a stormy sea.The tale continues that the waters became instantly calm and the saint floated safely over the water landing on the beach in Cornwall.

If the legend is to be believed, his first followers were a badger, a fox and a bear.

Piran 3

In Cornwall St Piran is then said to have established himself as a hermit, a lifestyle that gained him great respect from others with people travelling from far around to benefit from his miracles.

It is said that he was joined by a number of other Christians and he founded the Abbey of Lanpiran.

It is also said that he rediscovered tin-smelting after the practice had been lost when the stone on his fireplace – which naturally had a small amount of tin in it – had the tin melt out of it, collecting on the top in the shape of a cross.

St Pirans flag

It is from this legend that we have St Piran’s flag, the white cross on the black background.”


St Piran’s Day is popular in Cornwall and the term ‘Perrantide’ has been coined to describe the week prior to this day. Many Cornish-themed events occur in the Duchy and also in areas in which there is a large community descended from Cornish emigrants. The village of Perranporth (‘Porthpyran’ in Cornish) hosts the annual inter-Celtic festival of ‘Lowender Peran’, which is also named in honour of him.


The largest St Piran’s Day event is the march across the dunes to St Piran’s cross which hundreds of people attend, generally dressed in black, white and gold, and carrying the Cornish Flag.  A play of the Life of St Piran, in Cornish, has been enacted in recent years at the event. Daffodils are also carried and placed at the cross. Daffodils also feature in celebrations in Truro, most likely due to their ‘gold’ colour. Black, white and gold are colours associated with Cornwall due to St Piran’s Flag (black and white), and the Duchy Shield (gold coins on black).

The Cornish Flag, the Flag Of St Piran (white cross on a black background) represents white tin flowing from the black rock, or good overcoming evil.

“According to legend,  St Piran was born in Ireland in the 6th century. He was renowned for his miraculous deeds but a group of tribal kings grew afraid of his powers and jealous of his influence.  They put a millstone around his neck and threw him off the top of a high cliff into the sea.  As Piran fell, lightening and thunder raged, but as he reached the sea the storm ceased and the Irish watched St Piran float on the millstone towards the Cornish shore.

After many days at sea, he safely landed on the beach that bears his name today – Perranporth.  He built his chapel in what is today a large expanse of sand dunes and it is said that his first converts were a fox, a badger and a boar.  The Cornish people flocked to see him as news of his teaching spread.

Piran 2

St Piran is a well-known saint and many places and churches bear his name throughout Cornwall and Brittany.  There was also a medieval chapel of St Piran in Cardiff, Wales.  Piran is the patron saint of tinners and one tale explains how he discovered tin – although in truth, tinning had been carried out in Cornwall for centuries before hand.

St Piran also liked a drink and the local expression ‘as drunk as a Perraner’ has survived down the ages.  It is also reputed that he lived to the grand old age of 206.

St Piran’s flag is acknowledged as the national banner of Cornwall, with the white cross on a black background said to signify the white tin coming out of the black ore and the light of truth shining in the darkness, a reference to the early Celtic Christianity Piran brought to Cornwall.”


“St. Piran, Abbot of Lanpiran (Born c.AD 480)
(Welsh: Perran; Latin: Piranus; English: Piran)

St. Piran is the most popular of the Patron Saints of Cornwall (the others being St. Michael and St. Petroc). His family origins are obscure, but the tradition that he came from Ireland is extremely strong. Misguided medieval hagiographers identified him with St. Ciaran of Saighir. Though the two names are arguably the same, an identification with St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, whose father is said to have come from Cornwall, is much more likely. Piran’s father and mother are both given Irish ancestries. However, his father’s name, Domuel, is certainly British and he was probably Prince Dywel ap Erbin of the Royal House of Dumnonia.

Piran spent his younger days in South Wales, where he founded a church in Caer-Teim (Cardiff). He probably received his religious schooling at the monastery of St. Cadog in Llancarfon where he would have met St. Finnian. Piran’s mother being of Irish blood, the two presumably got on well and returned together to Ireland where Finnian founded some six monasteries, including his most famous one at Clonard (Meath). Piran-Ciaran lived here before moving on to live with St. Enda on Aran Island and then St. Senan on Scattery Island. He finally founded his own community at Clonmacnoise, “Ireland’s University”.

Cornish legend tells how, in old age, Piran was captured by the local pagan Irish. Jealous of his miraculous healing powers, they tied a millstone around his neck and threw him off a cliff and into the sea during an horrendous storm. As Piran hit the water, the storm abated and the millstone bobbed to the surface as though it were made of cork! With his new-found raft, Piran set sail for his homeland of Cornwall. He landed at Perran Beach, to which he gave his name, and built himself a small oratory on Penhale Sands at Perranporth, where he performed many miracles for the local people. It was excavated from the dunes during the 19th century, but has recently been reburied for its own protection. He was eventually joined by others seeking solitude and so established the Abbey of Lanpiran.

Piran’s rise to be Cornwall’s Patron stems from his popularity with the Cornish tin-miners. It is said that Piran himself first discovered tin in Cornwall (or rediscovered what the Romans knew well) when he used a large black Cornish rock to build himself a fireplace. He was amazed to find that, as the flames grew hotter, a trickle of pure white metal began to ooze from the stone. He shared this knowledge with the local people and thus provided the Cornish with a lucrative living. The locals were so delighted that they held a sumptuous feast in Piran’s honour where the wine ran like water. Piran was fond of the odd tipple and he is still remembered today in the Cornish phrase “As drunk as a Perraner”. The trickling white metal upon its black background, however, remains his most enduring memorial as the White Cross of St. Piran on the Cornish National flag.

Piran 4

Piran founded churches at Perranuthno and Perranarworthal, and a chapel at Tintagel. His holy-well, the “Venton-Barren” was at Probus. He probably also made trips to Brittany where he became an associate of St. Cai. Here, Piran is remembered at Trézélidé, St. Peran, Loperan and Saint-Perran. Arthurian tradition, expounded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, says that he became chaplain to the great King Arthur and was made Archbishop of Ebrauc (York) after St. Samson was exiled by Saxon invasions. If so, it seems unlikely that he ever properly took up his Archiepiscopal See.

Traditionally, Piran died at his little hermitage on 5th March though, as this is St. Ciaran of Saighir’s Day, his true feast day may have been the 18th November as found in the Launceston Church Calendar. His relics were a great draw to pilgrims but, due to inundation by the sand, they were eventually moved inland to where the Parish Church of Perranzabuloe (St. Piran-in-the-Sands) was built to house them.”

Perranzabuloe church


St Piran’s Oratory is possibly an early Christian chapel with cemetery, located on Penhale Sands about 2km to the east of Perranporth. It is a compact building with a small nave and chancel, which may have been separated by a wooden rood screen.  A stone bench extends around much of interior and there are doorways to the south and east.

Piran oratory

St Piran’s Oratory in 1892-1909

See also: