Ivey's Blog

Who Was St Piran?

02 March 2017:Cornwall
A picture of the cornish flag flying against the blue sky.

This week is a very important week in the Cornish calendar.

St Piran’s Day, Cornwall’s very own patron saint’s day, is a national day celebrating everything it means to be Cornish. You can’t miss the lead up to this exciting celebration but who was St Piran and what is St Piran’s Day all about?

The Legend of St Piran

Image of a representation of St PiranThe legend stretches back to the 5th Century & is steeped in tales of miracle & mystery. Legend has it that after a time spent in Rome, Piran returned to his homeland of Ireland and became a bishop. Piran is said to have performed many miracles and whilst these endeared him to the Irish people, they angered the country’s Kings. His miracles eventually saw him condemned to death and he was thrown into the ferocious seas with a millstone tied around his neck. It is said that a strange calm fell across the ocean, causing the sea to settle. Rather than drown, legend has it that Piran sailed upon the millstone eventually landing on Perranporth beach in Cornwall.

The story continues that one evening whilst living out his days in Cornwall, Piran lit a fire on a black hearth stone. The heat of the fire was such that a white liquid came to the top forming a white cross over the slab. Piran had unknowingly set a fire on top of a slab of tin bearing ore. The fire had triggered the process known as smelting. Two things occurred that night; Piran became known as the first person to discover tin and the whole experience became the inspiration for the traditional Cornish ‘St Piran’ flag.

St Piran remained in Cornwall for the rest of his life and became the Patron Saint of tin miners. As with any good legend, it is believed that he lived to be 200 years old!

St Piran’s Day in Cornwall

From coast to coast, St Piran’s Day sees a wide range of celebrations. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area, check out some of these awesome & culturally immersive events.

Perranporth, St Piran’s Play, 5th March

Meeting at Piran Point, the Grand Procession to St Piran’s Oratory and Church takes place to celebrate the re-excavation of St Piran’s Oratory from Penhale Sands. The procession will be led by Falmouth Marine Band to the Oratory where the audience will be invited to sing along with invited choirs.

Held on the nearest Sunday to St Piran’s Day, the play produced by the St Piran Trust, takes place in Perranporth. Crossing the dunes to St Piran’s Cross, hundreds of people gather, generally dressed in black, white and gold, the colours of Cornwall, carrying the Cornish Flag.

You can take part in this celebration of Cornwall’s distinct identity by joining the spectators who walk over the dunes and watch the play acted out in three parts. Dozens of actors and musicians portray the stages of St Piran’s life from his birth in Ireland, his arrival in Cornwall, his miraculous discovery of tin and his Christian ministry in Kernow.

6th March Bodmin, St Piran’s Day Parade

The celebrations will begin at 11am with a parade down through the town to the Mount Folly where invited dignitaries will address the gathered crowd. This will be followed by performances by local children and a procession to St Petroc’s Church. The parade will commence at 11.am from the Library on Lower Bore Street.

However you choose to celebrate this St Piran’s Day, make the most of this rare chance to really get under the skin of Cornwall’s identity.

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