St. Padarn

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An alternative by S. Baring-Gould (1899)

The two churches of North and South Petherwin, are dedicated to St. Padarn, to form a large territory once under his government. It was his Gwynedd, but whether so called from its being open moorland or from its being exposed to the winds—windblown (Gwyftt)—no-one can say. Padarn was son of Pedredin and Gwen Julitta, and was first cousin of St. Samson. He was born in Brittany, but owing to a family revolution his father and uncles fled to Wales, but Padarn remained as a babe with his mother. Finding her often in tears, he asked her the reason, and she told him that she mourned the loss of his father. So when Padarn had come to man’s estate he went in quest of him, and finally found him in Ireland, where, old rascal, he had embraced the monastic life, entirely regardless of what was due to the wife of his bosom. As Pedredin absolutely refused to leave his newly chosen mode of life, Padarn returned to his mother, and they went together to Wales, passing through Cornwall. In Wales he founded Llanbadarn Fawr in Cardiganshire, which became an episcopal see ; but he got across with Maelgwn, king of North Wales, as also with King Arthur, who in the lives of the Welsh saints is always represented as a bully, showing that they were written before that king had been elevated into the position of a hero of romance by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century. His position now became untenable, and he left Wales.

It was then, it is presumed, that he made his great settlement in North Cornwall. According to one account he crossed into Brittany with Caradoc Strong-i’-th’-Arm, but the expedition ended in no results, and he returned. Now after a while Cousin Samson arrived in Padstow harbour, and resolved on making a Cornish tour before he crossed into Brittany, whither he much desired to go and see what could be done towards the recovery of his paternal acres. At Padstow he visited St. Petrock. Then he went along the north-east, and as he approached Gwynedd, or Padarn’s Venedotia, he sent word that he was coming. Now Padarn was getting out of bed when the tidings reached him, and he had pulled on one stocking and shoe ; but so delighted was he to hear that his cousin was at hand, that he ran to meet him with one leg shod and the other bare.

The dates of his life are approximately these. He came to Wales in 525, remained there till 547, when he migrated to Devon and Cornwall, where he remained to his death in 560.* When the Saxons obtained the mastery, North Petherwin and Werrington were given to the abbey of Tavistock, and the old Celtic foundation of Padarn ceased—monastically.

 

* Tremendous confusion has been made of his life, as he has been confounded with a S. Paternus, who was Bishop of Vannes in 462 or 465 ; and the Cornish Venedotia has been construed as Venettia, Vannes. Nearly a century intervened between the two saints.