Friday 26 June 2020

St. Piran, Cornwall's Saint, Was Thrown into The Atlantic Chained to a Millstone

A version of the story of Cornwall's St. Piran* from 1865:

Good men are frequently persecuted by those whom they have benefited most. The righteous Piran had by virtue of his sanctity been enabled to feed ten Irish Kings and their armies for ten days together with three cows. 

He brought to life by his prayers the dogs which had been killed while hunting the elk and the boar, and even restored to existence many of the warriors who had fallen on the battlefield.

Notwithstanding this and his incomparable goodness, some of the kings condemned him to be cast off a precipice into the sea, with a millstone around his neck.

On a boisterous day a crown of lawless Irish assembled on the brow of a beetling cliff, with Piran in chains. By great labour they had rolled a huge millstone to the top of a hill, and Piran was chained to it.

At a signal from one of the kings, the stone and the saint were rolled to the edge of, and suddenly over the cliff into the Atlantic.

The winds were blowing tempestuously, the heavens were dark with clouds and the waves white with crested foam.

No sooner was Piran and the millstone launched into space, than the sun shone out brightly, casting a full lustre of its beams on the holy man, who sat tranquilly on the descending stone.

The winds died away, and the waves became smooth as a mirror. The moment the millstone touched the water, hundreds converted to Christianity who saw this miracle.

St. Piran floated on safely to Cornwall. He landed on the 5th of March on the sands that bare his name. He lived amongst Cornish men until he attained the age of 206 years.

*The name of the saint is also written as Piran, Peran or Perran


  1. It's an horrific story but, with a good ending. Cornwall has so many stories, myths & legends.

    1. Thanks David, there are so many different saints, with a Saints Way that stretches from Padstow to Fowey - this was the route for saints heading for Europe and places in England.

  2. What an interesting version of St Piran's life, Mike. I would love to go to his oratory one day... Thank you for your comment on my wasp post: I think it's the sandy soil that attracts species like those Ruby-tailed ones, though I know they are drawn to wooden stakes or fences too.

    1. Thanks Caroline, so many saints in Cornwall, and all with a tale to tell.

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderful story! Do you have any more Cornish Saint stories at all?

    1. There are so many Cornish Saint stories in Cornwall. The only other one I have written a post on is St. Willow : The Decapitated Saint Chose Where He Wanted His Cornish Church To Be Built on

      Thanks Sophia.

  4. Indeed an interesting and unique story. It is fascinating to combine the tales of the saints with the many places in Cornwall and I’m sure it can be inspiring to walk where they walked as well. I think legends enhance a culture and they can certainly create a great source of speculation about their origins. Enjoyed this post a lot.

  5. So many variations in the stories of the Saints - Cornwall seems to have had a myriad of Saints passing through. Every church appears to have its own Saint. Always interesting though.
    Thanks Ann




  We had to make a short visit to Fowey so I snapped a few quick photos as we walked. The first two are views on the way from the Fowey car ...