March 5th – St Piran’s Day
“St Piran is the most famous of all Irish saints who came to Cornwall – he arrived on a mill-stone. A gang of heathen Irishmen had tied him to the stone, rolling it over the edge of the cliff into a stormy sea, which thereupon was stilled, and the saint floated calmly
over the water to the sandy beach of Perranzabuloe.
There are those who doubt not only the adequacy of his transport, but also whether he ever set foot in Cornwall at all. Yet is not Piran the patron saint of Cornish tinners, said indeed to be the discoverer of tin? Then, Exeter Cathedral was once the fortunate possessor of one of his arms, while according to an inventory of 1281 at St Piran’s church itself was a reliquary containing his head and a hearse in which his body was placed (for processions), as well as such trifles as a tooth of St Bredanus and another of St Martin. And they were still there in 1433, when Sir John Arundell left 4os to enclose the head of the saint in the best and most honourable way they could.
But more convincing than any record of relics are the ruins of the forlorn little oratory half buried in the water of shifting towans of Penhale Sands. There is nothing to prove that it was built by Piran, but it is sixth- to eighth-century work in the manner of the Celtic chapels of Ireland, and the earliest church, unless the remains of St Elidius on Scilly are older, not only in Cornwall but in the whole south-west of England.”
–from: A History of Cornwall, by F.E.. Haalliday, second edition 1975,
The Garden City Press Ltd, Letchworth, Hertfordshire
St Piran – Patron Saint of Cornish Tinners
The internationally-recognised flag of Cornwall, of Cornish tinners, and indeed of tinners at large, is St Piran’s flag. The flag features St Piran’s white cross. According to legend, tin in the shape of a white cross appeared among the black ash after the smelting process when St Piran was present.