Posted by: anna | November 4, 2010

St. Mellon of Cardiff, bishop of Rouen

Today (22 October) we commemorate St. Mellon of Cardiff, 1st bishop of Rouen. From Baring-Gould:
S. MELLONIUS, Bishop, Confessor. MELLONIUS, Bishop of Rouen, is said to have been a native of Cardiff, and to have been born about the year 257. Unhappily, however, the material for his Life is of very poor quality. The Vita was written in the seventeenth century by Dom F. Pommeraye, O.S.B., from earlier material, but none very reliable, or very ancient. Acta SS. Boll., October 22, ix, 570-4.
Mellonius was selected to carry the British tribute to Rome, being at that time a pagan. On reaching the Eternal City he offered sacrifice to Mars. But making acquaintance with Pope Stephen I he was converted, and on his way home stopped at Rouen, having been greatly assisted on the road by a walking-stick kindly furnished him by an angel. At Rouen he preached to crowds. A youth named Praecordius climbed on to a roof the better to hear him, but tumbled down and was killed. Mellonius prostrated himself on the body and revived him. This incident is appropriated from the Acts of the Apostles. Mellonius became first bishop of Rouen, and governed the church there for fifty-one years, and died in 311.
The Life is stuffed with absurd stories of miracles of no interest to any one. As may be judged, it is practically worthless historically. All that we can predicate concerning Mellonius is that he was bishop
of Rouen, and that possibly he came from Cardiff.
He is the patron of S. Mellon’s, in Welsh Llaneirwg, four and a half miles east of Cardiff. Probably the dedication was due to the Norman conquerors of Morganwg. In the Taxatio of 1254 the church is called ” Eccl. Scti. Melani.” In that of 1291,” Eccl’ie (sic) de Sco Melano.” In the Valor 1535,2 ” Eccl’ia P’o lis Sancti Melani.” Rees 3 gives him from Cressy as Mello, Mallo, Melanius, or Melonius, a Briton. Browne Willis gives his festival at S. Mellon’s as October 10. There is a farm called Pont Melon in the parish of Llandaff. A modern figure of him is in the east window of Roath Church, Cardiff. S. Melon is the name of a parish in Leon. It is very questionable whether S. Mellion and S. Mullyon, in Cornwall, and the chapel of Lamellion, in Liskeard, be dedicated to S. Mellion of Rouen, and not to S. Melanius of Rennes. Melanius was a much more genuine personage than Mellion. He assisted at the Council of Orleans in 511, and died between the years 530 and 535. The introduction of his name into Cornwall was probably due to the settlement there by Athelstan of refugee Bretons from the inroads of the Northmen. They brought the bodies of their Saints with them.
Honestly, B-G, I do get fed up with your patronizing tone! ‘stuffed with absurd stories of miracles of no interest to any one’, forsooth! That simply isn’t true. I want to read them. Bring on the Bollandists! Not because I’m likely to believe that every last one of them happened exactly as written down (so stop assuming the readers are gullible fools), but because I’d like to see for myself. If there isn’t a well written, properly footnoted English life that takes all available sources into account (there aren’t that many), then I don’t want to take B-G’s word on trust! Also I quite enjoy absurd stories of miracles. After all, what’s the point of a perfectly ordinary, understandable miracle? Once you’re into the realm of miracles, necessarily outside of the usual normality of the senses, how can you call anything absurd?
Humph, well, B-G contributes to the absurdity. I am VERY fortunate in having access via the Oxford network to the online database of the Bollandists’ Acta Sanctorum (and perhaps a library near you subscribes too, or even has a hard copy of all 68 volumes) and have tracked down Mellon, or Mellonus, or Melanius. The walking-stick angel episode reads (summary of more than one similar version): One day during the celebration of the Mass, he saw an angel of the Lord standing at the right of of the altar; and held out to him a pastoral staff, saying ‘Receive this staff, by which you will govern the people of the city of Rouen in Neustria. Do not worry that your way is unknown and your work will be hard, for the Lord Jesus Christ will protect you under the shadow of his wings.’
So much for absurd. I just wish my Latin were better. Unfortunately the Bollandists don’t seem interested in translating, but I will be checking back with them now and again to see what I can extract, to add to the absurdly condensed translations available.
Holy St Mellonus, pray to God for us.

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