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Rumon


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Monk and bishop of the (?) 6th century,

patron of Tavistock and Romansleigh (Devon) and of Ruan Lanihorne, Ruan Major and Minor (Cornwall). William of Malmesbury visited his shrine at Tavistock c.1120, described him as a bishop, and regretted the complete absence of sources concerning his life. A West Country canon, possibly from Glasney (Penryn), made good this deficiency by providing a ‘Life’ for Rumon, which consisted simply of a transcript and abbreviation of the Life of the Breton Ronan, but with ‘Rumon’ written for ‘Ronan’ throughout. This has caused confusion to scholars from the 12th century to the 20th.

Its most useful element is a description of the translation of Rumon's relics from Ruan Lanihorne, a Celtic monastery and the most ancient centre of his cult, to Tavistock. This was founded by Ordulph, count of Devon and Cornwall, in 981, and it was he who obtained the relics. There Rumon's body, but not (according to C.S.P.) his head, remained throughout the Middle Ages. The same source describes him as ‘an Irish hermit who became a bishop, but left his country for Little Britain (i.e. Brittany), where he spent his life in abstinence and virtue’. Doble suggests that Rumon was a monk of Glastonbury who made a foundation in the Lizard peninsula of Cornwall. Glastonbury claimed relics of Rumon, who was venerated in the West of England, as well as at Norwich and Ramsey. His feast was on 30 August (with a fair at Tavistock from 1114); translation, 5 January. Various Irish and Scottish saints of the same or similar name are distinct.

G.P., pp. 202–4; P. Grosjean, ‘Vie de S. Rumon’, Anal. Boll., lxxi (1953), 359–414; G. H. Doble, The Saints of Cornwall, ii (1962), 120–34; William Worcestre, 112–15; H. P. R. Finberg, Tavistock Abbey (1951).

Subjects: Christianity.


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