Saint Piran is the patron saint of tin-miners. He is also generally regarded as the national saint of Cornwall. Saint Piran’s Flag is a white cross on a black background. St Piran’s Day is March 5th.
No one can state for sure who St Piran was, we can only sift for clues in documents written many years after his time. In the past many writers have stated with confidence the facts of his ancestry. The Trust will not do this as our reasoning is that you should look at the clues and decide for yourself. Surely this is the magic of St Piran.
We believe St Piran was born in Ireland. This decision is based on the ties with St Kieran of Saighir. This saint was born and raised on the island of Cape Clear off County Cork, by his father Lughaidh and mother Liedania. After studying scriptures in Rome he returned to Ireland and was made a bishop at his monastic settlement Saighir Kieran in County Ossary. There is no reference to his death and there is no shrine to his honour yet he is one of the twelve most revered saints in the Irish calendar.
At this time St Piran lands on Perran beach and builds the tiny oratory. There is no written word attributing his pedigree. He and his followers build the oratory in the Irish style with the heads of a man, a woman and a beast around the arched doorway The priest’s house is built inside the graveyard as in the Irish style. It is interesting that the three communities mentioned celebrate March 5th as their Saints day thus making a strong Kieran-Piran connection.
The trail continues with the clues from the old church of St Piran. An inventory taken in 1281 by the canons of Exeter, record a bone of St Brendon and a bone of St Martin both associates of St Kieran. The churches of Exeter and Kilkenny Ireland, who held the monasteries of St Piran and St Kieran respectively, regularly exchanged Deans and Bishops.
One thing is certain, the suggestion that St Piran is St Kieran of Clonmacnoise does not stand as this saint it is recorded to have died at the age of 32 and is buried at his monastery.
Many people have claimed many things but nothing is sure, we can only ponder on who was St Piran, where he came from, how he arrived on our shores. One thing is sure. St Piran lives on in the hearts and minds of the Cornish people here in Cornwall and around the world.
Legend: The heathen Irish tied him to a mill-stone, rolled it over the edge of a cliff into a stormy sea, which immediately became calm, and the saint floated safely over the water to land upon the sandy beach of Perranzabuloe in Cornwall, where his first converts to Christianity were animals.
Legend: St. Piran lit a fire on his black hearthstone, which was evidently a slab of tin-bearing ore. The heat caused smelting to take place and tin rose to the top in the form of a white cross (thus the image on the flag).