I have the great privilege of living in Truro which is a delightful Cathedral City that has managed to preserve that ‘small market town’ feel, located in the County of Cornwall in the South West of England.
Cornwall is known as the ‘Land of the Saints’ and is steeped in Celtic Christian tradition. Christianity has flourished in this county since early times and evidence of the ancient Christian tradition can be found in the many parish churches which make up the Diocese of Truro carved out of the ancient Diocese of Exeter in 1877. There is further evidence of the early Christian tradition in the many Celtic Crosses that still stand across the county. Many of these are only to found if one truly immerses oneself in the heart of the County.
Cornwall attracts many visitors especially during the holiday periods and particularly since Covid restrictions have prevented families from travelling abroad. Many come for the sea, sand and surfing. Others for the peace and tranquillity that is to be found along the miles of Coastal paths and in the hills and moors of the remoter parts of the peninsular where one can lose oneself in nature. I would challenge anyone who failed to ‘feel’ the presence of the Saints who have gone before as they traverse and immerse themselves in the ancient landscape.
There are some church buildings that also offer that opportunity to step out of the busy world into the peace and tranquillity of our Holy places. Some immediately feel prayerful, where generations have worshipped, prayed and shared in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Church of St. George the Martyr, in the centre of the city of Truro is one such place where one can find a connection with God in the reserved Sacrament. Despite having been in transition for well over three years the faithful have preserved the spirit of the early Saints by offering a warm welcome and maintaining regular Eucharistic worship sustained by three Society priests (retired).
Over the years, sadly the Catholic tradition has been largely eroded in Truro Diocese but the remaining two parishes cling on to that determined spirit of the early Christian Saints who came to Cornwall, often facing adverse conditions to proclaim the Gospel. The most well known of those Saints must be St. Piran. Legend has it that he was tied to a mill-stone which was rolled over the edge of a cliff into a stormy sea. The sea immediately became calm, and the saint floated safely over the water to land upon the shore at Perranzabuloe. His first disciples are said to have been a fox, a badger, and a bear! It was here that St. Piran settled as a hermit. His holiness and his austerity won for him the adoration of many people. It is recorded that he was also was blessed with the gift of miracles which brought many to seek his aid.
Many of those attributes of St. Piran are an inspiration to many to within our Catholic parishes, who continue to exist in difficult times, to carry on the tradition of hospitality, pastoral care and care for the environment as well as maintaining the Eucharistic tradition of old.
Fr. Christopher D. Epps, SSC
Bishop of Ebbsfleet’s Episcopal Representative, Truro Diocese