SAINT PETROC, IN FRENCH PERREUSE, ABBOT,
HAVING laid the foundation of a virtuous education
in Wales, his native country, he passed into Ireland, and there spent
twenty years in sacred studies, and in the most fervent exercises of
devotion and penance. For his further improvement he made a
pilgrimage to Rome, and returning into Cornwall, shut himself up in a
monastery of which he was himself the founder, at a place since
called from him Petrocs-Stow, now Padstow, which stands at the mouth
of the river Alan, or Camel, on the Bristol channel: it is a good
sea-port, much frequented by Irish, who make up a considerable part
of the inhabitants.
Bodmin, a flourishing town almost in the centre of
Cornwall, about twelve miles from each of the two seas, was also
illustrious for having been some time the dwelling-place of St.
Petroc, whom some distinguish from St. Petroc of Padstow, because
Dugdale calls him a bishop. But it was not uncommon in Ireland at
that time, for eminent abbots to be raised to the episcopal dignity
in their own monasteries by the neighboring bishops. And Sir James
Ware and Mr. Harris find, in some Irish legends, the title of Bishop
promiscuously used for that of Abbot. At least, neither in the
registers or archives of Exeter, nor in Godwin, Le Neve, or any
others is his name found in the list of the bishops of Cornwall.* And
all accounts, in Leland and others, suppose the same St. Petroc to
have retired from Padstow to Bodmin, and there founded a second
monastery and a great church which king Athelstan afterwards favored
with great benefactions and singular privileges. In this place, St.
Petroc ended his mortal course about the year 564, on the 4th of
June. His shrine and tomb in Leland’s time, in the reign of
Henry VIII., remained in the eastern part of the church of Bodmin not
far from the high altar. At Padstow he had, among others, three
eminent holy disciples, Credan, Medan, and Dachan. From his numerous
monastery at Bodmin, that place was anciently called Bosmana, or
Bodnanachie, that is, The Mansion of Monks. This great church was
originally served by monks: after king Athelstan’s munificent
benefactions by secular clergy, and in the reign of Henry I., it
became a flourishing monastery of regular canons of St. Austin. The
relics of St. Petroc were carried privately to St. Meen’s
monastery in Brittany in 1178; but upon the complaint of Roger, prior
of the regular canons at Bodmin, the king of England procured them to
be brought back and restored to the great church of Bodmin the year
following, where it was still standing in Leland’s time.
St. Petroc is titular saint of a church in
Nivernois, in France, Bodmin, and several other churches and chapels
in Cornwall and Devonshire, &c. In the calendars of some churches
and monasteries of Brittany the feast of St. Petroc is ordered to be
kept of the first class with an octave. See Lobineau, p. 1, &c.
On St. Petroc, see Leland in his Itinerary, second edition, vol. 8,
p. 52, vol. 3, p. 2, vol. 2, p. 84: in his Collectanea, vol. 1, p.
75, vol. 3, pp. 188 and 209; Capgrave, Chatelain, Colgan in MSS. ad 4
Junii, and Borlase, Antiquities of Cornwall.