In the footsteps of Cornwall’s Celtic saints

Featured image: Kneeling cushion at All Saints Marazion Church, Cornwall, UK, one of four churches under the  charge of Revd Nigel Marns.


Cogitation 17 Thursday 26 April 2018   Christianity came to Cornwall between the fifth and seventh century.

Men and women missionaries from the Celtic lands of Ireland and Wales had a huge impact on Cornwall, according to Nigel Marns in his recently published book, A Cornish Celtic Way (Booths Print, Penryn, Cornwall, 2018).

Marns spent three months developing a guidebook and handbook of a new 125-mile footpath route through Cornwall. The book references 90 Celtic saints related to this Cornish Celtic Way. They left behind granite crosses, chapels, holy wells–plus inspiration to be tapped today.

Nigel Marns, author of A Cornish Celtic Way, at a presentation at St Uny Church in Lelant, starting point of St Michael’s Way to St Michael’s Mount.


Celtic cross in the St Uny Church cemetery. St Uny is the starting point of St Michael’s Way to St Michael’s Mount.
A few bluebells adorn the cemetery wall at St Uny.

I am pleased with the inclusion of a personal reflection section in each chapter, a song, a Christian reference, and questions for the reader to ponder. The book deeply informs and guides the modern day pilgrim.


Walking companions this week

Guests and walking companions this week, Emilie and Robert Walson, pose after lunch on a walk Monday with the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society.
Boulders on Trevalgan Hill near St Ives. We did a 5-mile walk with the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society.
View from moorland across fields, separated by 3,000-year-old dry stone hedges, to the Atlantic Ocean, and vast sky.
Walk leader John Rogers points out the stretch of path we’ll be walking.
Here we’re on the South West Coast Path, a 630-mile-long footpath in Devon, Dorset and Cornwall.
A primrose cluster nests in grasses beside the coast path.
Here’s a calm section of the South West Footpath.
Part of the section, between St Ives and Zennor, is rated the most difficult of the entire coast path.

As though the walk was not enough activity for the day, we caught the train to Truro to attend a special Evensong service, “The Eucharist on the Feast of George the Martyr, Patron of England.”

The order of service noted that “St George was probably a solider living in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century. He was martyred at Lydda in about the year 304.”

Further, “Certain saints hold a special place in the Church’s devotion and worship, and on their festival days, the Eucharist is sung as a special celebration of their life and witness. They are men and women through whom the light of Christ has shone, and who renew in us the sense of God’s holiness.”


Return to St Michael’s Mount

While Robert and Emilie toured the castle, Marty and I visited the garden on St Michael’s Mount. We visited the castle a few weeks ago with Dean and Gwen Preheim-Bartel. The Mount has been home or a way-station for Bronze age settlers, monks, pilgrims, soldiers, and since the 17th century the St Aubyn family.

At one time the harbour-side village was home to 300 islanders. Today 30 islanders live on the island.

Unique. Fascinating. Challenging. Gardening on a rock in the middle of the sea isn’t for the faint-hearted, notes The National Trust. The four gardeners “garden on a terrain that would challenge the most agile of mountain goats.”

We loved our visit, walking partway to the Mount along St Michael’s Way. Blessed are the footsteps of the saints who came before.


A prayer for a Saint’s Day

Almighty and everlasting God,

you have kindled the flame of love

in the hearts of the saints.

Grant to us the same faith and power of love,

that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,

we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Ever feel like you’re living on the edge of the world? That can be a good, if sometimes lonely, thing. Something more to ponder.



2 thoughts on “In the footsteps of Cornwall’s Celtic saints

  1. Last time you were able to walk to the Mount during low tide!


    My iPad says that a smile always increases your Face Value!



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