St. Samson was born in Wales around the year 485 and is considered one of the greatest missionaries to come from the British Isles. At the age of seven, his parents dedicated him to the service of God in gratitude for his birth after a long period of childlessness. He was enrolled under St. Illtud at his monastery at Llanwit, Glamorgan; when he reached manhood Samson was ordained deacon and priest by Illtud himself. This caused considerable envy among a number of the monks, and two nephews of Illtud attempted to murder Samson, who therefore left the community to live as a hermit on the island of Caldey off the coast of Pembrokeshire.
Samson’s father Amon and his uncle Umbrafel joined him on the island after Amon had recovered from a serious illness, having received the last rites from his son. When the Abbot Piro died, Samson succeeded him, but resigned after a trip to Ireland and resumed his eremitical life in Wales with his father and two others.
After a time, Samson went to Cornwall where he was consecrated bishop as well as abbot of St. Dubricius Monastery. He then traveled throughout Cornwall, working as a missionary, founding monasteries and churches, and gathering many followers for Christ. He crossed the Channel to continue his missionary activities in Brittany. There he was given some land on which to build a monastery; this site in time became the town of Dol, which became the spiritual center of Brittany.
Sensing that the end of his earthly life was near, Samson undertook a journey throughout the whole region of Neustria, moving slowly from parish to parish, often stopping to preach or to celebrate the Divine Office. His missionary activities throughout Britain and Brittany ended only with his death around the year 565.
During his life and after his death many miracles were attributed to St. Samson. Some of his relics, including an arm and a crosier, were acquired in the 10th century by King Athelstan of Wessex for his monastery at Milton Abbas in Dorset, which is why St. Samson’s feast is kept in many places in England. St. Samson’s name is still greatly revered throughout Brittany and Wales.
Other Saints We Remember Today
Sts. Nazarius & Celsus (68), Martyrs, Sts. Victor I (198), Pope and Martyr, and Innocent I (417), Pope
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