Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 19, 2007
Wave St. Piran's black and white flag
Fifth century monk led a charitable life
St. Piran – March 5
By TED FITZGERALD
The holy man noticed that white metal had melted from rocks surrounding his cooking fire and formed a cross on the dark ashes.
He is remembered in the flag of Cornwall, a white vertical cross on a field of black, which was the saint's standard.
Legend has it that the design originated when the holy man noticed that white metal had melted from rocks surrounding his cooking fire and formed a cross on the dark ashes.
Thus he is said to have discovered the area's tin and since then has been the patron of not only Cornwall, where his feast day has historically been celebrated, but of tin miners and of several regional churches.
St. Piran is also remembered in other area place names - Perrancoombe, Perranzabalo, Perranwell and in Perran Beach. Several sites in Brittany also bear his name, St. Peran for example, and a shrine at Trezelide where those suffering from rheumatism seek his intercession.
He is venerated in the parish church of Our Lady of the Portal and St. Piran at Truro, seven km inland from Perranpoth. The town occupies an attractive site in an open valley dominated by the only Anglican cathedral in Cornwall and has a background of tin mining. The Catholic church is situated on St. Austell Street, namesake of another early area saint, and is a modern (1973) structure, open and airy, where the congregation gathers in a half-circle centred on the altar.
A variety of religious subjects are portrayed in attractive, modern stained glass windows, icons and paintings.
A chapel dedicated to the primary church patron contains a very old statue of Our Lady of the Portal, an enigmatic figure thought to have been associated with an early monastic establishment near here at a bridge over the river at the entrance to the town.
Other relics from an earlier Truro church include a stone baptismal font and St. Piran in effigy who greets visitors at the main entrance.
Since its founding as a parish of the Plymouth Diocese in 1885, the church has boasted an active schedule with many lay organizations, three weekend Masses and services to several Catholic schools and area hospitals.
It's not hard to remember St. Piran in Cornwall. Carloads of local sports enthusiasts routinely display his black and white flag, particularly around Plymouth, in adjacent Devon where they compete for attention with those flaunting St. George's red and white cross of England.
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