Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Biographies


Saint Petroc, Celt evangelist, Abbot  ( 564

Source: http://www.orthodoxresurgence.com/petroc/

A first approach to the indigenous Orthodox Saints and Martyrs of the Ancient Church who lived and who propagated the Faith in the British Isles and Ireland during the first millennium of Christianity and prior to the Great Schism is being attempted in our website  in our desire to inform our readers, who may not be aware of the history, the labours or the martyrdom of this host of Orthodox Saints of the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord.

"The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints"     (Saint Arsenios of Paros 1877)


To Saint Petroc (sometimes spelt Petrock in English, Pedrog in Welsh and Perreux in French) (d. 564) is a 6th century Celtic Christian saint. He was born in Wales but primarily ministered to the Britons of Dumnonia which included the modern counties of Devon (Dewnans), Cornwall (Kernow), and parts of Somerset (Gwlas an Hav) and Dorset. He is also known to have ministered to the people of Brittany.

Old Welsh genealogies record that he was a younger son of King Glywys Cernyw of Glywysing (now Glamorgan), and there are local dedications to him at St Petrox near Pembroke and Ferwig near Cardigan. He has also given his name to Llanbedrog, a village on the Lleyn peninsula. He studied in Ireland (where he was the teacher of Saint Kevin).

After studying, he began his mission to Cornwall, where he founded monasteries at Padstow and Bodmin. Padstow, which is named after him (Pedroc-stowe, or 'Petrock's Place'), appears to have been his base for some time. There are numerous other dedications to him throughout Cornwall and he is even said to have converted its king, Constantine of Dumnonia, to Christianity. After thirty years, legend says that he went on the pilgrimage to Rome by way of Brittany.

Upon his return, Petroc passed through Devon, where ancient dedications to him are even more numerous: a probable seventeen (plus Timberscombe just over the border in Somerset), compared to Cornwall's five. The position of churches bearing his name, nearly always near the coast, reminds us that in those days travelling was done mainly by sea. The North Devon towns of Petrockstow and Newton St Petroc are also named after Saint Petroc and the popularly-adopted unofficial flag of Devon is dedicated to him.

The legendary tales surrounding Petroc are exceptionally vivid and imaginative (giving him a second pilgrimage, travels to India, taming wolves) and may represent interpolation from pagan tales.

In iconography, Petroc is usually shown with a stag.  His major shrine was always at St Petroc's Church, Bodmin. In 1177, a Breton stole his relics from Bodmin and gave to the Abbey of St Meen. However, Henry II restored them and, though the relics were thrown out during the English Reformation, their beautiful ivory casket is still on public display in the church. With Saint Piran and Saint Michael, he is patron saint of Cornwall.

His feast day is June 4.


Article published in English on: 2-9-2009.

Last update: 2-9-2009.