Padarn

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St Padarn
See also: Padarn Beisrudd

:Another Paternus was a bishop of Zaragoza (Spain) in 1040-1077.

Padarn (Latin: Paternus) was an early 6th century sanctified British Christian abbot-bishop, the eponymous founder of St Padarn's Church. Llanbadarn Fawr,[1] near present day Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales. Padarn also built a monastery in Vannes and is considered one of the seven founder saints of Brittany. Also, traditionally, the first bishop of Braga, Saint Paternus of Avranches in Normandy appears to be the same person. Padarn's early vita is one of five insular and two Breton saints' lives that mention Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.[2]

Life[edit]

The Vita Sancti Paternus, a major source for biographical details of Padarn, may be an epitome of a previous, more extensive source. In it Padarn is Armorican by race, born to "Petran, his father, and Guean, his mother". His parents "dedicated themselves to Christ" and Petran left Letavia for Ireland.

The boy elected to follow his example: he joined a fellowship of monks travelling to Britannia, founded a monastery on the Britannic shore then travelled to join his father in Ireland. At this time, as in many saint's live's of the era, there appears an aristocratic military function in Padarn's career, for among the travellers were Padarn's cousins, who appointed him the fourth leader of a troop, "you should rule over people for example of life". Padarn's spiritual countenance is sufficient to calm the armies of kings of two provinces; peace and unity spring up to the extent that, when woods are felled in one province, they fall of themselves in the other.

In the Vita Sancti Paterni Padarn travels on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with St David and Teilo, gaining the gift of tongues on the way, for all three to be ordained bishops by the patriarch. There Paternus acquires the tunic that Arthur would covet. On their return they amicably divide Britannia in three bishoprics.

Padarn finally returned to Letia where his fame filled the region and "made peace" with the bishop Samson in Vannes, where Padarn his built a monastery, and subsequently made a peace with the six bishops of Armorica, of which he now made a seventh.

Padarn and Arthur[edit]

Paternus

In the most celebrated episode, King Arthur tries to steal Padarn's tunic. This theme may connect the story to Padarn Redcoat whose coat was one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain;

When Padarn was in his church resting after so much labour at sea, a certain tyrant, Arthur by name, was traversing the regions on either side, who one day came to the cell of saint Padarn the bishop. And while he was addressing Padarn, he looked at the tunic, which he, being pierced with the zeal of avarice, sought for his own. The saint answering said, "This tunic is not fitting for the habit of any malign person, but for the habit of the clerical office." He went out of the monastery in a rage. And again he returns in wrath, that he might take away the tunic against the counsels of his own companions. One of the disciples of Padarn seeing him returning in fury, ran to saint Padarn and said, "The tyrant, who went out from here before, is returning. Reviling, stamping, he levels the ground with his feet". Padarn answers "Nay rather, may the earth swallow him." With the word straightway the earth opens the hollow of its depth, and swallows Arthur up to his chin. He immediately acknowledging his guilt begins to praise both God and Padarn, until, while he begs forgiveness, the earth delivered him up. From that place on bent knees he begged the saint for indulgence, whom the saint forgave. And he took Padarn as his continual patron, and so departed.[3]

Other contemporaries of Padarn[edit]

The vita makes him a contemporary not only of Arthur, but also of the tyrant Maelgwn Gwynedd, who is first cursed because of a crime against the saint, and then cured of his sickness and blindness when he comes on bended knee to ask forgiveness and to bestow lands on Padarn's community, which are laid out with the exactitude of a deed:

a quantity of land, that is, from the mouth of the river Rheidiol upwards until it touches at its head the limit of the river Clarach; and along the length of the same river as far as the sea is the limit prolonged.

Miscellany[edit]

Some primitive elements remain in the text: two evil heralds are undone by the Trial by ordeal of boiling water; scalded and defeated, "Their souls in raven-forms fly to the riverbed, which unto this day by the name of one of them is called, to wit, Graban."[4]

Saint Paternus of Avranches in Normandy appears to be the same person but he is said to have been born in Poitiers, become a monk at the Abbey of Marnes in France and retreated with his fellow monk, Saint Scubilion to the forest of Seicy in the diocese of Coutances before the Bishop of Coutances made him a priest in 512.[5]

Feast day: April 16 [6] Three days were kept to honour Padern in Armorica;

the Armoricans celebrate three solemnities of his, that is, that day of the Kalends of November, when he formed perpetual unity with the six chief saints of Letia, and the day of his obit, and the day, on which he received the order of the episcopate, that is, the twelfth before the Kalends of the month of July.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Llanbadarn, "Padarn's church".
  2. ^ J.S.P. Tatlock, "The Dates of the Arthurian Saints' Legends", Speculum 14.3 (July 1939:345-365) pp. 349ff.
  3. ^ Vita Sancti Paterni §21.
  4. ^ Vita Sancti Paterni §18.
  5. ^ "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year" edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist, Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1955, p. 151
  6. ^ Catholic Online

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]