Sunday, 20 April 2014

Saint Pol of Brittany

Seven Saints of Brittany
Saint Pol de Léon (Paul Aurelian or Paulinus Aurelianus) was a 6th-century saint from Wales. Paul Aurelian was the son of a Welsh prince and a disciple of St. Iltud at Llantwit (Saints Gildas and Samson were fellow students). 
He became the first bishop of Léon and was one of the seven founder saints of Brittany along withSaint Tudwal at Tréguier, Saint Brioc at Saint-Brieuc, Saint Malo at Saint-Malo, Saint Samson at Dol-de-Bretagne, Saint Patern at Vannes and Saint Corentin whose shrine is at Quimper. The seven saints and their shrines form the basis of the medieval Tro-Breizh, 'Tour of Brittany', pilgrimage.
Route of the TROBREIZH pilgrimage 
His iconography features two sacred objects: a bell (and a fish); and a dragon. Each has its own significance in the Pol's life story.
After ordination Pol was invited by Marc'h, king of Tintagel in Cornwall, to preach to his people. He did this successfully  for a while but he yearned for the life of a hermit and decided to leave for Brittany. He asked the king for a bell as a gift. The king, angered at Pol's decision to go, refused.
Saint Pol's bell, St Pol de Leon Cathedral
Pol arrived first on the Isle of Ouessant and then the Isle of Batz, where he defeated the dragon which had terrorised the local population for years. It was here that the bell miraculously appeared, brought to him in the mouth of a gigantic fish washed up on the shore. The bell (weighing about 4 kg) can still be found at Leon cathedral.
Bells were sacred symbols carried by saints and came to represent their miraculous powers. Dragons, on the other hand, were symbols of pagan and Druidical superstitions.
The chief priest of Batz decided to make him the bishop of the region and Pol settled on the mainland where he restored the old fortress of Kastell Leon, now the site of the cathedral.
St. Pol de Leon Cathedral

According to legend, St Pol died in 575 at the age of 140 years. As one of Brittany's most important saints his name can be found in hundreds of different place names across Brittany: Saint-Pol, Paule, Lamballe, Mespaul and the various Lampauls.


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