Posted by: anna | August 11, 2010

St Sulian of Luxulyan in Cornwall

Today (29 July) we commemorate St Silin/Sulien, Sulian, Suliau, Tysilio, abbot of Luxulyan in Cornwall (6th C).
Confusion again – celt-saints says: ‘Saint Sulian may be identical with the Breton Saint Sulien of Cornouaille and Domonée. He was the founder and abbot, but not the patron, of Luxulyan in Cornwall. There is considerable, but understandable, confusion between Sulian and another saint Sulinus of East Brittany (feast: 1 October )and the Welsh Saint Tysilio (Suliau), feast 8 November. There appear to be three separate saints (Farmer).’
Baring-Gould and Fisher have this to say:
S. SULIEN, Confessor
This Breton-Welsh Saint has been entirely confounded by late writers with S. Silin or Giles, but the two are kept quite distinct in earlier writings. The confusion has arisen through similarity of names ; but Silin cannot by any possibility be equated with Sulgen, in Old-Welsh Sulgen. Sulien only is known to the Saintly Pedigrees, both earlier and later, whilst the calendars are the principal authority for Silin, who is therein usually styled ” Saint,” which in mediaeval Welsh was reserved for non-Welsh Saints. It is quite clear that Silin was formerly regarded as the Welsh equivalent for S. Giles, the well-known abbot, who enjoyed a very extensive cult, which reached England and Scotland in the eleventh century, and whose festival is September I. The equation is as early as the thirteenth century, for in the Red Book of S. Asaph (fo. 138a), in a document dated 1296, Llansilin Church is called ” Ecclesia S’i Egidii de Kynlleith.” Salesbury also in his Welsh Dictionary, published in 1547 (s.vv.Dyw and Silin), gives Silin as the Welsh form for Giles ; and the calendar in Allwydd Paradwys, 1670, has against September i, ” AEgidiws, i.e. Silin Abad.” Sulien came to Wales with S. Cadfan, who headed a great company from Brittany. He is usually coupled with S. Mael, who was one of the number, and possibly his brother. In the lolo MSS. it is stated that they, with others, ” became Saints in Bangor Illtyd and in Bangor Catwg, at Llancarfan, and went as saints with Cadfan to Bardsey.” In another document, printed further on,” they are said to have been ” kinsmen of Cadfan, descended from Emyr Llydaw, who came with Cadfan to this Island, and are saints in Bardsey. Their churches are in Gwynedd, where they lived in great piety and holiness of life.” But these statements are late. Sulien’s father’s name is nowhere given, not even in the later Pedigrees.
Sulien is commemorated twice in the Welsh Calendars ; (i) alone, on September 2, which festival occurs in the Calendars in Peniarth MSS. 27, 172, 186, 187, 192, 219; Jesus College MS. 141 ; Mostyn MS. 88; Llanstephan MS. 117; the lolo MSS.; Additional MS. 14, 882 (as ” Sant Julian”); and the Prymer of 1618; {2) in conjunction with Mael, on May 13, in the calendars in Peniarth MSS. 186, 191 (but Mael, alone in MSS. 187, 219); Jesus College MS. 141; Mostyn MS. 88; Llanstephan MSS. 117, 181; the lolo MSS.; Allwydd Paradwys ; the Prymer of 1633; and the Demetian Calendar. The Prymer of .1546 May 12, by mistake.
Sulien is, conjointly with Mael, the patron of Corwen (apparently, “the Stone Choir, or Church”), in Merionethshire, and of Cwm, in Flintshire. A great fair used to be held at Corwen on May 13, O.S. Ffynnon Sulien is about a mile and a half from the Church, near Rug Chapel. From it water was formerly fetched, across the Dee, for Baptisms. It would appear that the church of Silian, in Cardiganshire, is dedicated to Sulien. Willis and Meyrick call it Capel Julien or Sulien, with festival on September 2. The Tumble Mission Church i(modern) in the parish of Llannon, Carmarthenshire, is dedicated to him. Willis, under Llaniestyn, Carnarvonshire, says, ” ubi in coemeterio est extructa Capella S. Suliani, S. Suliens, July 22.” Rhossilly, a parish in Gower, is the Rosulgen of the Book of Llan Ddv, which embodies the name Sulien. There was more than one ecclesiastic of the name connected with that Diocese in the time of Bishop Oudoceus — Sulgen, Abbot of Llancarfan, and Sulgen, Abbot of Docunni, or Llandough.
In the “Genealogy of lestyn ab Gwrgan, Prince of Glamorgan,” printed in the lolo MSS., we are told that Gorwg ab Eirchion ” gave a new name to his court, calling it Tresilian, after a saint of that name whom the infidels had killed.” Tresilian is still the name of a dingle opening to the sea, midway between Llantwit Major and S. Donats, but we have no means of knowing who the saint was.
Silin = S. Giles is likewise commemorated on two days in the Welsh Calendars ; (i) on September i, in practically all the Calendars which commemorate Sulien on September 2, to which may be added the Calendars in the Welsh Prayer Books of 1567, 1664, etc., and Bibles of 1588, 1620, etc. ; and (2) on October i, in conjunction with Garmon, or Germanus, in a great many Calendars.
The Demetian Calendar (Cwrtmawr MS. 44) gives Silin, Bishop, on January 27. He is in all probability S. Julian, first bishop of Le Mans, in France, and not the Julian, martyr at Sora or Atina, also commemorated on this day. There was a fair at Capel S. Silin, Cardiganshire, on the day. Old Style, and later on February 7. In the Calendar in Additional MS. 14,886 (1643-4), ” Sain Silin ” is entered on January 26.
S. Giles, Abbot and Confessor, popular in England, was popular to a considerable extent also in Wales, under the form Silin. To him is dedicated the parish church of Wrexham, one of the finest churches in the country, the tower of which is famed as one of the ” Seven Wonders of Wales,” and on which are placed three statues of the saint, with his attributes. Formerly the church was given as dedicated to S. Silin, but its patron is now recognized only as S. Giles. There was according to Norden’s Survey, 1620, a field in the township of Acton, close to the town, called Erw Sant Silin. Browne Willis gives the Patronal Pestival as S. Giles’s Day, September i, ” according to the observation of their Wake.”
To S. Giles, as Silin, is also dedicated the church of Llansilin, in Denbighshire, where his festival was observed on October 1, which is in reality one of the festivals of Germanus of Auxerre, the day of his burial, and occurs in most of the Welsh calendars. There are two churches in the neighbourhood dedicated to S. Garmon, which fact, no doubt, brought about the alteration from the ist of one month to the 1st of the next. The church of Llansilin consists of two equal bodies of four bays, and in the north aisle was the chapel of S. Silin, which contained his statue on a bracket in 1534. The church underwent much rough treatment in 1646, during the Civil War, and the “image of S. Silin” was destroyed among other things. Ffynnon Silin, in a field of Tynllan, close to the village, has been closed, but the water was conveyed in pipes to supply the fountain in the village in 1882.
To him are also dedicated Letterston, where is a Ffynnon San’ Silin, and Upton, subject to Nash, both in Pembrokeshire ; and Gileston, in Glamorganshire. Capel Sant Silm, in the lower end of the parish of Llanfihangel Ystrad, Cardiganshire, is long since extinct ; and there was formerly a pilgrimage chapel, used for solemn processions on certain Holy Days, which occurs as ” Capell St. Sylin ” and ” Capella Scti Egidii,” in the parish of Mynachlogddu, Pembrokeshire. There is an old historic house at Aber, near Bangor, called Bod Silin.
Luxulyan, in Cornwall, may, perhaps, be a corruption of Lan Julian, or Sulian. A Juliana is given among the supposed daughters of Brychan.3 S. Sullien, Sulien, Lan-Sulien, Plu-Sulien, occur in Brittany. The fleabane-wort {plantago psyllium) is called in Welsh Llysiau Silin.
Troparion of St Sulian Tone 5
O fervent St Sulian,/ thou didst persevere, overcoming all obstacles,/ and thy life as a monk was radiant./ Thou didst work miracles/ when living in thy monastery,/ and wonders shone forth from thy tomb./ We praise thee, holy Abbot Sulian.
Holy St Sulian, pray to God for us.


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