(d. c. 552)

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St Samson (c. 485—565) bishop (possibly of Dol in Brittany)

Cadfan founder of a religious settlement


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(d. c.552),

abbot. His earliest known cult and Life date from the 12th century. He was reputed to have been born in South Wales, was the cousin of Samson and Cadfan, became a monk, and then emigrated with many kinsmen to Brittany. With the help of King Childebert he founded two monasteries: Plouarmel and Ploermel. From Brittany his cult spread to Normandy, Anjou, and Touraine; in England it was encouraged by King Henry VII who believed he was saved from shipwreck off the coast of Brittany through Armel's intercession. Consequently there is a statue of him in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster Abbey, and another on Cardinal Morton's tomb at Canterbury. Other examples survive on the painted reredos of Romsey Abbey and in alabasters at Stonyhurst College (Lancs.) and St Mary Brookfield church (London). He is generally represented in armour and a chasuble, leading a dragon with a stole round its neck. This recalls the legend that he took it to Mont-Saint-Armel and commanded it to dive into the river below. A fine 16th-century church at Ploermel contains eight stained-glass windows which depict scenes from his life. He was invoked to cure headaches, fever, colic, gout, and rheumatism; hospitals sometimes had him as their patron. Feast: 16 August (in Sarum Calendar since 1498).

A. le Grand, Vies des Saints de Bretagne (1901), pp. 383–7;J. Macé, Histoire merveilleuse de saint Armel (1909);A. R. Green, ‘The Romsey painted wooden reredos, with a short account of St Armel’, Archaeol. Jnl., xc (1933), 306–14.

Subjects: Christianity.

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