Celtic and Old English Saints          28 December

* St. Gowan of Wales
* St. Maughold of the Isle of Man
* Ss. Romulus and Conindrus
* St. Alphege of Canterbury

St. Gowan of Wales
(also known as Govan, Goven, Cofen)
5th century. Gowan, wife of King Tewdrig of Glamorgan, gave her name to
the parish of Llangoven, Monmouthshire, and to a chapel in Pembrokeshire

St. Maughold, Apostle of the Isle of Man
(Maccul, Macaldus, Mawgan, Morgan)
Died c. 488.
Saint Maughold was an Irish prince and reputedly a captain of robbers
who was converted by Patrick. Upon his conversion, he became a new man
by putting on the spirit of Christ. One version of the legend says that
Patrick told him to put to sea in a coracle without oars as a penance
for his evil deeds. Another says that he set sail in order to avoid the
temptations of the world. In both stories, he retired to the Isle of Man
(Eubonia) off the coast of Lancashire, England.

Earlier Patrick had sent his nephew, Saint Germanus, as bishop to plant
the Church on the island. Germanus was succeeded by Saints Romulus and
Conindrus during whose time Maughold arrived on the island and began to
live an austere, penitential life in the mountainous area now named
after him Saint Maughold. After their deaths, Maughold was unanimously
chosen as bishop by the Manks.

In one of the 18 parish churchyards on the island can be found Saint
Maughold's well. The very clear water of the well is received in a large
stone coffin. Those seeking cures of various ailments, particularly
poisoning, are seated in the saint's chair just above the well and given
a glass of well-water to drink. Maughold's shrine was here until the
relics were scattered during the Reformation.

Maughold, commemorated in both the British and Irish calendars, is
described in the Martyrology of Oengus as "a rod of gold, a vast ingot,
the great bishop MacCaille." Many topological features on the Isle of
Man, which he divided into 25 parishes, bear Maughold's name. A church
at Castletown, Scotland, is dedicated to him. William Worcestre said
that he was a native of the Orkneys, and that his shrine was on the Isle
of Man (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth,

For more details see his life on 25 April

Saint Maughold's well

A Poem of St Maughold

I'LL tell you the legend as well as, I can,
Of St. Maughold, a pious old Bishop of Man.

This man (like his father)
Was profligate, rather
At least he had been
In an earlier scene,
If his sins we could fish up,
Before he was bishop;
He led his poor wife,
It is said, a sad life,
Would cheat her and beat her,
And often ill-treat her;
Nay, threaten to kick her,
When he was in liquor,
Though now a saint, yet he
Was once-of banditti

The captain or leader, as fierce as could be,
In that island which Moore calls the " Gem of the sea."

And wherever he went,
He on. plunder was bent,

But after a few years began to repent;

So they sent him afloat
In a flat leather boat,
In very rough weather,
His hands tied together,
With bolts on his feet,
And no victuals to eat;

So he sang (while on waves he continued to ride)
I'm afloat, I'm afloat, on the fierce rolling tidt,,.

At length he was thrown
On an island unknown;
Or at least very few,
At that period knew,
That where the boat ran,
Was the Island of Man;
And St Patrick (the Saint),
Pick'd him up rather faint.

Yet this man became-and believe it who can
A worthy respectable Bishop of Man.

Ay, and such was his fame,
That he got a great name,

When St. Bridget, an Irish nun, came to visit him,
And then lost her heart, say some folks (as a quiz at him),

And soon took the veil,
When she saw him so pale,
With fasting so much of late,
His follies to expiate,

So thus he became ay, believe it who can
worthy respectable Bishop of Man.

And in Mona's fair Isle,
This saint lived for a while,
Where there's now a famed well,
Which contains, as they tell,

A very fine spring, which the Manx (spite of dirt) use,
On account of its famous medicinal virtues.

But then, don't you see?
That its efficacy,
To Man's sons and daughters
Who drank of these waters,

Was chiefly enhanced (though they tasted like paint)
By drinking them off in the chair of the saint -

Not a modem stuffed chair,
But a hard one and bare,
Which no one now, to sit in would care,
Where the saint, with hair shirt,
And all covered with dirt,
Would repent his misdeeds,
And count over his beads.

So I've given the tale, as well told as I can,
In verse, of St. Maughold, the Bishop of Man.

Ss. Romulus and Conindrus, Bishops and Missionaries in the Isle of Man
Died c. 450. Romulus and Conindrus were among the first preachers of the
Good News on the Isle of Man. They were contemporaries of Saint Patrick

Troparion of Ss Romulus and Conindrus tone 4
By your holy preaching, Romulus and Conindrus,/ the Holy Name of Jesus
was first heard in the Isle of Man./ As Heaven rejoices at the extension
of the Orthodox Faith,/ pray, most holy fathers, that we may use our
lives in Christ's service/ for the salvation of our souls.

St. Alphege (Elphege) Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr

Born 954; died 1012; also called Godwine, martyred Archbishop of
Canterbury, left his widowed mother and patrimony for the monastery of
Deerhurst (Gloucestershire). After some years as an anchorite at Bath,
he there became abbot, and (19 Oct., 984) was made Bishop of Winchester.

In 994 Elphege administered confirmation to Olaf of Norway at Andover,
and it is suggested that his patriotic spirit inspired the decrees of
the Council of Enham. In 1006, on becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, he
went to Rome for the pallium. At this period England was much harassed
by the Danes, who, towards the end of September, 1011, having sacked and
burned Canterbury, made Elphege a prisoner. On 19 April, 1012, at
Greenwich, his captors, drunk with wine, and enraged at ransom being
refused, pelted Elphege with bones of oxen and stones, till one Thurm
dispatched him with an axe. Elphege's body, after resting eleven years
in St. Paul's (London), was translated by King Canute to Canterbury. His
principal feast is kept on the 19th of April
[ see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/1141 ];
that of his translation on the 8th of June. He is sometimes represented
with an axe cleaving his skull.

Suppliers of Icons of Celtic Saints for the church
or the prayer corner at home.

Lives kindly supplied by:
For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

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