Saint Samson of Cornwall, Saint Samson the Abbot
Sampson, Samsun, Sanxo
Born: c. 485, South Wales
Died: 565, Kingdom of the Franks
Samson was born in the late fifth century, most likely in Siluria, South Wales, and he was of noble birth. Some traditional accounts says he was the son of Amwn (or Amon) and Anna. Anna is described as the daughter of Meurig ap Tewdrig, who was the prince of Glamorgan. He was raised in a Christian family and received a thorough education in theology and the Scriptures.
At a young age, Samson entered monastic life and joined the monastery of Llantwit Major in Wales. He dedicated himself to a life in prayer, study, and ascetism, seeking spiritual growth and deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Saint Samson is known for his missionary activities and his efforts to spread Christianity. He is said to have traveled extensively, preaching the Gospel and establishing monastic communities. His missionary work took him to various regions, including Cornwall, Brittany, and even Ireland.
During his ordination ceremony as deacon, as Bishop Dubricus of Caerleon-on-Usk (Saint Dubric) was laying his hands on Samson, a white dove of pigeon descended from above and landed on his shoulder, symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. It remained there until the young deacon had been ordained and had received the Holy Communion.
Some time later, Samson asked Illtyd to give him permission to live on a little island near Llantwit, where Piro, a holy priest, lived. Illtyd gave him permission, and Samson went there to study in a tiny cell. Samson’s reputation as a holy and wise monk grew, and he was eventually chosen to be the Bishop of Dol in Brittany. As bishop, he continued his missionary work and worked diligently to strengthen the Church in the region.
When he was bishop at Dol, Brittany, his monks reported that they were disturbed in their devotions by the cries of wild birds. One night Samson gathered the birds to him in the courtyard and instructed them to remain silent. The following morning the birds were sent away, and no longer were the devotions of the monks disturbed by their wild cries.
It is said that he performed miraculous healings, tamed wild animals, and even calmed stormy seas. These miracles and legends contributed to his reputation as a saint and a spiritual leader.
Saint Samson spent the latter part of his life in Brittany, overseeing the Church and providing pastoral care to the people. He is believed to have died around the year 565. He is the patron saint of Brittany, and one of the most important of the British missionary bishops of the sixth century.
His connection with the Arthurian legends exists solely because he has been suggested as the possible original for Sir Galahad.