Saint of the Day – 1 May or the Second Sunday of Easter – St Brieuc of Brittany (c 420-c 510) Welsh Bishop, Monk, Abbot and Missionary to Brittany, Miracle-worker, Apostle of the poor. Brieuc was the Founder and first Abbot of a Monastery near Treguier, Brittany, which grew into the town called Saint-Brieuc. He is also one of the Seven Founder Saints of Brittany. Born in c 420 at Dyfed, Cardiganshire, Wales and died in c 510 at Saint-Brieuc-des-Vaux, France of natural causes. Patronages – purse makers (from the legendary size of his alms-giving), Saint-Brieuc-des-Vaux, France. Also known as – Breock, Briach, Brieg, Brigomalos, Brimael, Brioc, Brioch, Briock, Brioco, Briocus, Briog, Briomaglus, Bru, Bryan. Additional Memorials – 30 April (Scotland), 18 October (translation of relics).
Brieuc is called 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 because no evidence is recorded in the See, which dates only to 844. Still, it is possible that he had been a Bishop and an Abbot before records were properly kept in Brittany.
Very little is known about Brieuc’s early life. His 9th century Acta states that he came from Ceredigion in Wales, where the Church at Llandyfriog was originally dedicated to him. He received his education in Ireland and then studied under St Germanus of Auxerre. He is believed to have spent time at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, where a Church was dedicated to him and his name was commemorated in the annual St Bruix Fair. He most likely returned to France early in 431, accompanied by Saint Illtud.
In 480, he settled in Armorica, France and founded a Monastery at Landebaeron. He then travelled to Upper Brittany where he established an Oratory at St Brieuc-des-Vaux, where he became the Abbot of a Monastery which he had founded.
Brieuc died in his own Monastery at St. Brieuc-des-Vaux and was interred in his Cathedral Church, dedicated to Saint Stephen.
His Acta cites numerous miracles, especially his cure of Count Riguel, who gave the Saint his own Palace of Champ-du-Rouvre, as also the entire attached manorial estates. He is represented as treading on a dragon or presented with a column of fire as seen at his Ordination.
In old age, St Brieuc is said to have been travelling in a cart, singing hymns together with a group of Monks walking alongside, when suddenly they were surrounded by a pack of wolves. His companions fled but Brieuc confronted the beasts fearlessly with the Sign of the Cross offered in benediction and they knelt before him humbly and seemed to pray with him. The Statue below depicts this scene and is kept in the Cathedral.
Saint Brieuc’s relics were moved to the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus of Angers in 865, and again, in a more solemn manner, on 31 July 1166. However, in 1210, a portion of the relics were restored to St Brieuc Cathedral, where the saint’s ring is also preserved.
In honour of Saint Brieuc’s link between Ceredigion and Brittany, the Town of St Brieuc has been twinned with Aberystwyth and a road, Boulevard St Brieuc, is located in the Town.
Note: The Seven Founder Saints of Brittany are:
Paol Aoreliann in Saint-Pol-de-Léon,
Tudwal in Tréguier,
Brieuc in Saint-Brieuc,
Maloù in Saint-Malo,
Samsun of Dol in Dol-de-Bretagne,
Padarn in Vannes,
Kaourintin in Quimper.