Today is the feast day of Saint Petroc of Wales. Ora pro nobis.
The name Petroc (Pedrog) is probably a variant of modern Patrick. Petroc, as he is generally known in Cornwall where he was patron saint, was a younger son of King Glywys Cernyw of Glywysing. (He may be identical to, or confused with, the legendary King Petroc Baladrddellt (Splintered Spear) of Cerniw). Upon his father’s death, the people of Glywysing called for Pedrog to take on the crown of one the country’s sub-divisions like his brothers. (2)
Petroc, and approximately sixty of his noble friends, became monks, traveling to Ireland, where they remained in study for nearly 20 years. (1)
Following their studies, Saint Petroc and his companions returned to Wales, sailing for Cornwall. Upon landing, and giving thanks to God, they group encountered a hermit, who refused their request for drinking water, suggesting they find it themselves. Petroc, striking the ground three times and looking to God, miraculously caused a clear, fresh spring to flow forth, providing drinking water not only for the group of monks, but also for the hermit. (1)
The group continued traveling, arriving at the monastery at Llanwethinoc (now Padstow), where Petroc took a cell and led the religious community. During this time, the monastery grew, and Petroc traveled throughout England and Wales, working miracles and converting many. For thirty years “he so afflicted his flesh with vigils and cold that for the curbing of illicit impulses of seething pleasure he very often spent the night in the middle of a torrent from cock-crow until dawn.” He ate nothing but bread except on Sundays, when “for the sake of reverence of the resurrection by the Lord, he modestly tasted some little condiment.” On one occasion, after predicting the weather, legend tells us, Petroc was overcome with humility at having dared try to anticipate the Lord’s plan, and set off on solitary pilgrimage for seven years. His travels, during this time of reparation, led him to Rome, India, and many other remote regions, holy legend suggests. He lived for some time in India, during which the Lord fed him with fish, and angels brought him counsel. During this time of solitude, Petroc is said to have befriended and tamed a wild wolf, with whom he returned to Wales. (1)
Petroc later moved still deeper into the Cornish countryside, where he discovered St. Guron living in a humble cell. Guron gave up his hermitage and moved south, allowing Petroc, with the backing of King Constantine, to establish a second monastery called Bothmena (Bodmin – the Abode of Monks) after the monks who lived there. Petroc eventually died at Treravel, while travelling between Nanceventon (Little Petherick) and Llanwethinoc (Padstow), and was buried at Padstow. The monks there later removed themselves, along with Petroc’s body, to Bodmin where his beautiful Norman casket reliquary can still be seen today. (2)