British prince and Christian saint. Patron of Cornwall
He studied in Ireland, where later he is said to have been the teacher of Saint Kevin.
For his further improvement he made a pilgrimage to Rome, and returning to Cornwall, shut himself up in a monastery of which he was himself the founder, at a place since called from him Petrocs-Stow, now Padstow, which stands at the mouth of the river Alan or Camel on the Bristol Channel. All accounts indicate that Petroc retired from Padstow to Bodmin, and there founded a second monastery and a great church which king Athelstan afterwards favoured with great benefactions and singular privileges.
Petroc founded churches in Little Petherick and Bodmin and in many parts of Britain, Wales and Brittany. He is said to have converted Constantine of Cornwall to Christianity by saving a deer Constantine was hunting. After thirty years, legend says that he went on the pilgrimage to Rome by way of Brittany. The place of his death was reputedly at a house belonging to a family named Rovel, thought to be a farm now called Treravel near Little Petherick.
With Saint Piran and Saint Michael, he is one of the patron saints of Cornwall. He was described by Thomas Fuller as “the captain of Cornish saints”.
The legendary tales surrounding Petroc are exceptionally vivid and imaginative (giving him a second pilgrimage, travels to India, taming wolves) and may represent interpolation from pagan tales. In iconography, like several other British saints, Petroc is usually shown with a stag. His feast day is 4th June.
In 936, King Athelstan of England annexed Cornwall and granted privilege of sanctuary to Padstow, there only being two other churches in Cornwall with this privilege.
His major shrine was always at St Petroc’s Church, Bodmin. In 1177, a Breton stole his relics from Bodmin and gave them to the Abbey of St Meen. However, Henry II restored them and, though the relics were thrown out during the English Reformation, their beautiful ivory casket is still on public display at St. Petroc’s in Bodmin. His remains were reputed to have ended in the bay of Hailemouth near Padstow. (more)