Today (22 June) in the calendar of early British saints, we commemorate St. Aaron of Aleth, Hermit (ca. 552). Aaron, or Aihran, is another of the many saints who spanned the gaps between the Brythonic-speaking lands of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. From Baring-Gould:
‘A saint, presumedly from Wales, in the first half of the sixth century in Armorican Domnonia, where he is venerated. He is locally known as Aihran ; the Latin form of the name is Aaron. He made a settlement a few miles north-east of Lamballe, where he is still commemorated as titular saint of the parish. To the west, in Cotes du Nord, is a chapel dedicated to him, that may indicate his presence there for a while, at Pleumeur-Gautier, on the tongue of land between the river Trieux and that of Treguier. But he would seem to have retired in old age to an islet near the ancient city of Aleth, at the mouth of the Rance. Off this coast are several islands, the largest being Cesambre, on which a colony of Irish monks was settled under an abbot named Festivus.
‘The islet, now occupied by the town of S. Malo, was then much more considerable in extent than at present. It has been reduced by the action of the sea. At the time when Aaron was there, a vill or two was situated on it ; they have been submerged.
‘The town of Aleth was either abandoned by its ancient inhabitants or was occupied only by pagans. Bili, author of a Life of S. Malo, asserts the former, but this is inconsistent with the rest of the narrative, and is in contradiction with the statement in another Life which says, “Civitas illa eo tempore populis et navalibus commerciis frequenta.”
‘According to the most trustworthy Lives of S. Malo, this latter saint, on leaving Britain with his companions, came to that isle where was Aihran or Aaron, and there remained for a considerable time till elected Bishop of Aleth ; but Bili says that it was not till later that he paid Aaron a visit. The former authority is best ; according to it, “ingressus insulam vocabulo Aaronis, ab ipso monacho nuncupatam, exceptus est ab ipso officiosisime.”
‘Here Aaron lived, as says Bili, “desiring to avoid the sight and conversation of bad men.” Possibly his mission had not been very successful, and he himself may have been broken with age. He gladly welcomed Malo as coming from Wales, and as having the energy of youth, to enable him to overcome the obstacles that had been perhaps too great for himself. Aihran died in the middle of the sixth century.
‘The chapel of S. Aaron at S. Malo stands on the highest point of what was once the island that bore his name. It is surrounded lofty houses, and has been threatened with destruction. Mass is said in it every year on June 22. There was formerly a chapel of S. Aaron at Ploemeur in Morbihan, in the hamlet now called Saint Deron. At S. Aaron (Cotes du Nord) is a statue of him. He is represented habited in a long monastic garment, girded with a cord, his head bare. His right hand holds a book, in the left is a pastoral crook. Although titular saint of the parish, he has been displaced to make way for S. Sebastian, and his pardon suppressed. There is a fine painting in the Cathedral of S. Malo representing the reception of Machu by S. Aaron. According to the Breviary of S. Malo, printed in 1537, a Missal of S. Malo, fifteenth century, and the Missals of 1609 and 1627, his day is June 22.’
Holy Father Aaron, pray to God for us.