Saint Gwinear was a Celtic martyr, one of only two early Cornish saints whose biographies survived the Reformation. The Life of Gwinear was written in the early 14th century by a priest named Anselm, and has sometimes been printed among Saint Anselm's works.[Notes 1] His feast day is March 23.
Born in Ireland with the Irish name of Fingar, he was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick and after spending time in Brittany went with 7 (or 777) companions to Cornwall, landing at Hayle, where he was martyred by King Teudar.[Notes 2] Saint Gwinear was said to have died with his followers by being thrown into a pit of reptiles.
The Victorian clergyman, hagiographer and antiquary Sabine Baring-Gould believed that an Irish group, driven from their homeland in Ossory in the fifth century, invaded Penwith (="pen-gwaeth", the "bloody headland"), and that the legend of Gwinear was a distorted recollection of these events.
- Gilbert Hunter Doble (1960) includes a translation of a large part of the text in which the saint's name is given as Guigner; Doble suggests that this Breton form indicates a connection with Brittany where the saint is also venerated.
- King Teudar also appears as a tyrant in the early 16th-century plays Beunans Ke and Beunans Meriasek, in which he comes into conflict with Saints Kea and Meriasek, respectively.
- Doble, G. H. (1960) The Saints of Cornwall: part 1. Truro: Dean and Chapter; pp. 100-110
- Ogden, R. A. The Life of Saint Gwinear [play originally written for Penzance Girls' Grammar School], in: An Unknown Planet?, Park Corner Press, Warrington, 2008; pp. 1-52
- Baring-Gould, Sabine, 1899, A Book of the West: Cornwall, Methuen, pp 285, 305
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- Mooney, Ambrose. "St. Gwinear, St. Phiala & Companions, Martyrs". CelticSaints.org.
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