Saint of the Day – 28 July – St Samson of Dol (c 490 – 565) Bishop, Confessor, Abbot, Missionary, Miracle-worker. Born in c 490 at south Wales and died on 28 July 565 at Dol-de-Bre-ta-paign, Brittany of natural causes. Samson was the brother of Saint Gwenyth of Cornwall and Saint Veep. Also known a – Sampson of..
Samson’s parents, whose names are given as Amon of Dyfed and Anna of Gwynedd, were of noble but not royal, birth. While still an infant, he was dedicated to God and , at the age of 7 years, was entrusted to the care of St Illtyd, by whom he was brought up in the Monastery of Llantwit Major in Wales
He showed exceptional talents in his studies and was eventually Ordained Deacon and Priest by St Dubric. After this, he retired to another Monastery n Caldy Island, to practice greater austerities. Some years later , Samson was appointed the Abbot. there In about 516, some Irish Monks who were returning from Rome, happened to visit Samson’s Monastery. So struck was tAbbot Samson, by their learning and sanctity, that he accompanied them to Ireland and there remained for a while
During this visit, he received the submission of an Irish Monastery and, on his return to Wales, sent one of his uncles to act as its Superior. His fame as a miracle-worker now attracted so much attention that he resolved to found a new Monastery or cell “far from the haunts of men” and, accordingly retired with a few companions, to a lonely spot on the banks of the Severn. He was soon discovered, however and forced, by his fellow-countrymen, to become Abbot of the Monastery formerly ruled by St Germanus. Here St Dubric consecrated him Bishop but without appointment to any particular See.
Soon after, Samson received a vision from God telling him to evangelise Brittany in France.. He and some Monks there, established a Monastery at Dol which later became the centre of a new Diocese and of his Episcopal work in the district.
Business taking him to Paris, he visited King Childebert there and was nominated by him, as Bishop of Dol. He is also recorded as having attended a Council in Paris sometime between 556 and 565, by which time he would have been old.
Samson spent the rest of his life in Brittany, gaining renown for wisdom, holiness and zeal for the preaching of the Gospel, the conversion of pagans and glory of God. Samson is regarded by many, as one of the greatest of the Welsh Saints.
Samson attained the age of 85 years and was buried at Dol. Several early lives of Samson exist. The oldest, printed by Mabillon in his “Acta Sanctorum” from a manuscript at Cîteaux and again, by the Bollandists, claims to be compiled from information derived from Samson’s contemporaries, which would refer it to about 600. Dom Plaine in the “Analecta Bollandiana” has edited another and fuller life, (from manuscript Andeg., 719), which he regards as earlier than Mabillon’s. Later lives 0f St Samson are numerous.
The Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan (reign 924–939), obtained several relics of St Samson, including an arm and a crozier, which he deposited at his Monastery at Milton Abbas in Dorset.