St. Brioc the Traveller – May 1

St. Brioc the Traveller, Bishop of Brittany
(Bryan, Brieuc, Briocus)
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Born in Cardiganshire, Wales; died in Brittany, c. 510; feast of his translation is October 18. Brioc was the founder of a monastery near Treguier, Brittany, which grew into the town and see called Saint-Brieuc. He was probably born in Ceredigion (Cardiganshire). According to legend, his father was named Cerpus and his mother was Eldrude, both of whom he is said to have converted following his ordination.

Brioc appears to have worked in southwestern Britain before migrating to Brittany; there is a place called Saint Breock or Breoke in Cornwall and Saint Briavels in the Forest of Dean is at root the same name. Saint Brioc’s medieval biography contains a number of particulars and marvellous tales, but its historicity is slight. It says, for instance, that Brioc was trained in Gaul by Saint Germanus of Auxerre, who died in 448, which makes it highly unlikely.

Brioc is reputed to have built a famous church called Grande-Lann, where he gathered a number of disciples. In Treguier, he converted a wealthy nobleman named Conan who provided the funds to build a monastery in northern Armorica. Then Brioc is said to have returned to Britain and with the help of his relative, Prince Rigald of Domnonia, built the church of Saint Stephen there.

Brioc is styled a bishop in an inscription in marble at his shrine built in 1210, but it is not certain that he was a bishop; more likely he was an abbot of the Celtic type who kept a bishop in his monastery because no evidence claims his successor in the see, which dates only to 844. Brioc’s relics were translated to the abbey of Saint-Sergius in Angers in the mid-9th century to protect them from Norse invaders. In 1210, an arm, two ribs, and some cervical bones were given back to Saint Brieuc’s (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Brioc is a bishop with a fiery pillar above him. He is venerated in Treguier, Brittany, and Cornwall (Roeder). Because of the legends regarding his great charity, Brioc is considered the patron of purse-makers (Farmer).

Sources:

Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Penguin Books.

Baring-Gould, S. & Fisher, J. (1907) The Lives of the British
Saints. 4 volumes. Charles J Clarke.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Bowen, Paul. When We Were One: A Yearbook of the
Saints of the British Isles Complied from Ancient Calendars.

Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gill, F. C. (1958). The Glorious Company: Lives of Great
Christians for Daily Devotion, vol. I. London:
Epworth Press.

Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler’s
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.

Roeder, Helen. (1955). Saints and Their Attributes.
Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

For All the Saints:

http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/ss-index.htm

These Lives are archived at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints