Celtic and Old English Saints 10 August
* St. Geraint of Devon
* St. Bettelin of Ilam
St. Gerontius (Geraint), King & Martyr
Died 508(?). Saint Gerontius of Damnonia (Devon) and his wife Enid were
the subjects of romantic legends. He died in battle against the Saxons.
There is another King Saint Gerontius of Cornwall, who died in 596. One
of these saints is the patron of Saint Gerrans in Cornwall and Saint
Geran in Brittany (Benedictines).
Marwnat Geraint or Elegy for Geraint
Around the year 480, a battle took place between the Saxons, defending
the old Roman Saxon Shore fort of Portchester, and British forces led,
apparently, by Arthur. The poem, found in the "Black Book of
Carmarthen," is a battle elegy written in praise of Geraint, a Dumnonian
king, who fell during the conflict. It is also found in The Red Book of
Hergest (circa 1400) and in The White Book of Rhydderch (circa 1350):
only a fragment in the latter. Although it can not be dated more
precisely than "early twelfth century or before", it may well be as
early as the ninth century, and could reference a battle in either 480CE
or 710CE. Either way, it contains another early reference to Arthur. The
significant thing is that it is not a legendary tale of one of Arthur's
deeds, but mentions him only in an incidental way.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in its entry for the year 501, reports the
event this way: "Port and his two sons, Bieda and Maegla, came to
Britain at the place called Portsmouth, and slew a young Welshman, a
very noble man". This interpretation of Llogporth is that Llongborth
(sea-port) was mostly likely Portchester, the westernmost of the Saxon
Shore forts at the head of Portsmouth Harbour. According to John Morris
(Age of Arthur), dates given in the early parts of the Anglo Saxon
Chronicle are believed to be about 20 years off, due to an error by the
8th century historian, Bede, in dating the Adventus Saxonum, the coming
of the Saxons.
The poem may also refer to the battle of Langport in 710 recorded in the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: "...and Ine and Nunna, his relative, fought
against Geraint, king of the Welsh" (where Welsh=West Welsh of Devon).
This Geraint is also recorded as corresponding with Aldhelm. If this is
the case the reference to Arthur is an anachronism.
Geraint ab Erbin may be a composite figure based on the Gerontius who
rebelled against Constantine in the early fifth century, a sixth-century
Geraint in The Gododdin, and the later Geraint/Geruntius of Devon who
fought the West Saxons in 710. The Welsh text is as edited and annotated
by AOH Jarman in the Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin.
Troparion of St Geraint tone 8
Thou wast a Confessor for the Faith, a friend and father of saints/ and
a wise and pious king, O holy Geraint./ Even in the Age of Saints thy
virtues shone forth, O righteous one/ and as thou wast a shining beacon
guiding thy subjects in Devon into the way of salvation,/ intercede, we
beseech thee, with Christ our God,/ for those who call upon thee, that
He will save our
St. Bettelin (Bertram) of Ilam
Date unknown. There is a chapel, font, well, and substantial portions of
Bettelin's shrine at Ilam in Stafford, but little remains of his memory.
He may have been an Anglo-Saxon hermit, who lived, died, and was
venerated in that area. Legend adds some rather improbable details
borrowed from the legend of Saint Bertelme of Fecamp: he was a Mercian
prince who fell in love with an Irish princess, brought her back to
England, and left her in the forest in labour. When he returned with a
midwife, a pack of wolves was devouring her. As a result, he became a
hermit for the rest of his life (Farmer).
Service to our Holy Father Father Bertram,
Wonderworker of Ilam and Stafford
Suppliers of Icons of Celtic Saints for the church
or the prayer corner at home.
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.
Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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