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St Dunstan (c. 909—988) archbishop of Canterbury


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(6th century),

Breton abbot. Trained by Budoc on an island called ‘Laurea’, he became a hermit on the island of Tibidy, off the Breton coast, and practised the usual Celtic mortifications of reciting the psalter daily with arms outstretched and wearing clothes of goat-hair. He later founded the monastery of Landévennec, where he lived as abbot, died and was buried. His Life was written only in the 9th century. Some of his relics, when his monastery was destroyed by the Vikings in 914, were taken to Mont Blandin (Ghent), others to Château-du-Loir and thence to Montreuil-sur-Mer.

His widespread cult in England was due to two reasons: foundations in Cornwall from his monastery, and the diffusion of his relics. The churches of Landewednack and Gunwalloe (both in the Lizard) are dedicated to him, while his name occurs in English litanies of the 10th–11th centuries. Exeter, Glastonbury, Abingdon, and Waltham all claimed relics of him, and his name occurs frequently in English calendars of the same date. It is likely that this was due to Dunstan's exile at Mont-Blandin and to later gifts of relics from the same source to Leofric, bishop of Exeter. Winwaloe was also known in East Anglia. His feast was celebrated at Norwich, where a street is named after him (recording the dedication of a church there) and his name occurs in a local weather jingle about the saints of the first three days of March:

First comes David, then comes Chad,Then comes Winnol, roaring like mad.

In art Winwaloe is usually represented with a bell, at whose sound fishes would follow him; but on a screen at Portlemouth (Devon) he is depicted carrying a church. Feast: 3 March, translation, 28 April.

A. De Smedt, ‘Vita S. Winwaloei abbatis Landévennec’, Anal. Boll., vii (1888), 167–264; G. H. Doble, The Saints of Cornwall, ii (1962), 59–108; J. Le Jollec, Guénolé, le saint de Landévennec (1952).

Subjects: Christianity.

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