St. Piran - The Patron Saint of Cornwall

St Piran

St. Piran (Cornish: Peran), the patron saint of Cornwall is said to have landed at the sandy shores of Cornwall at Perranporth.

Legend says that Piran originated from Ireland, cast to sea tied to a millstone on the order of the Irish King who was suspicious of Piran’s miraculous powers. Piran survived stormy seas and arrived at Perranporth where he built an oratory to promote Christianity (his first disciples were said to be a badger, a fox and a bear)

Piran is famous for his accidental discover of tin, when a black stone on his fireplace got so hot that a white liquid leaked out; the first tin smelting. It was this discoverey that earned Piran the title ‘Patron Saint of Tinners’, tin mining being the backbone of Cornish industry. This discovery also formed the basis of the Cornish flag, the white hot tin on the black of the ore.

According to legend St. Piran was fond of a tipple or two, despite his tipples, he is said to have lived to the age of 206.

St Piran's Day march

St. Piran's Day (March 5th) is popular in Cornwall and the term 'Perrantide' has been coined to describe the week prior to this day. Many Cornish-themed events occur in the Duchy and also in areas in which there is a large community descended from Cornish emigrants. The village of Perranporth ('Porthpyran' in Cornish) hosts the annual inter-Celtic festival of 'Lowender Peran', which is also named in honour of him.

The largest St. Piran's Day event is the march across the dunes to St. Piran's cross which hundreds of people attend, generally dressed in black, white and gold, and carrying the Cornish Flag. A play of the Life of St. Piran, in Cornish, has been enacted in recent years at the event. Daffodils are also carried and placed at the cross. Daffodils also feature in celebrations in Truro, most likely due to their 'gold' color. Black, white and gold are colors associated with Cornwall due to St. Piran's Flag (black and white), and the Duchy Shield (gold coins on black).