Saint Piran is the patron saint
of tin-miners. He is also generally regarded as the national saint of
Cornwall. Saint Piran's Flag is a white cross on a black background. St Piran's Day is March 5th.
No one can state for
sure who St Piran was, we can only sift for clues in documents
written many years after his time. In the past many writers have
stated with confidence the facts of his ancestry. The Trust will not
do this as our reasoning is that you should look at the clues and
decide for yourself. Surely this is the magic of St Piran.
We believe St Piran was
born in Ireland. This decision is based on the ties with St Kieran
of Saighir. This saint was born and raised on the island of Cape
Clear off County Cork, by his father Lughaidh and mother Liedania. After studying scriptures in Rome he returned to Ireland and was
made a bishop at his monastic settlement Saighir Kieran in County
Ossary. There is no reference to his death and there is no shrine to
his honour yet he is one of the twelve most revered saints in the
At this time St Piran
lands on Perran beach and builds the tiny oratory. There is no
written word attributing his pedigree. He and his followers build
the oratory in the Irish style with the heads of a man, a woman and
a beast around the arched doorway The priest's house is built inside
the graveyard as in the Irish style. It is interesting that the
three communities mentioned celebrate March 5th as their
Saints day thus making a strong Kieran-Piran connection.
The trail continues
with the clues from the old church of St Piran. An inventory taken
in 1281 by the canons of Exeter, record a bone of St Brendon and a
bone of St Martin both associates of St Kieran. The churches of
Exeter and Kilkenny Ireland, who held the monasteries of St Piran
and St Kieran respectively, regularly exchanged Deans and Bishops.
One thing is certain,
the suggestion that St Piran is St Kieran of Clonmacnoise does not
stand as this saint it is recorded to have died at the age of 32 and
is buried at his monastery.
Many people have
claimed many things but nothing is sure, we can only ponder on who
was St Piran, where he came from, how he arrived on our shores. One
thing is sure. St Piran lives on in the hearts and minds of the
Cornish people here in Cornwall and around the world.
Legend: The heathen Irish tied him to a
mill-stone, rolled it over the edge of a cliff into a stormy sea,
which immediately became calm, and the saint floated safely over the
water to land upon the sandy beach of Perranzabuloe in Cornwall,
where his first converts to Christianity were animals.
Legend: St. Piran lit a fire on
his black hearthstone, which was evidently a slab of tin-bearing
ore. The heat caused smelting to take place and tin rose to the top in
the form of a white cross (thus the image on the flag).