St Sampson as shown on the parish crest
Who is Guernsey's patron saint?
While we all know each of the parishes has their own saintly representative, who is actually the patron saint of the whole island?
After some investigation it turns out Guernsey's patron saint is St Sampson (or Samson) and his day is celebrated on July 28.
He has a story that stretches from the Celtic lands of Wales to the monastery at Dol in Brittany.
Sampson was born towards the end of the fifth century, the son of a Breton Prince and a Princess of Wales, in Wales and was placed in the care of St Illtud, abbot of Llantwit, at a young age to become a monk.
St Sampson's Church
Following his education and becoming a priest, he left Llantwit for Caldey Island where he was ordained bishop ahead of a period as a hermit around the river Severn. He is thought to have been ordained bishop around the year 521.
Following his ordination Sampson travelled to Cornwall where he became a missionary, shown by one of the Isles of Scilly bearing his name, before heading to Brittany in France where he founded the monastery at Dol.
It was during his journey to France that he came upon the Channel Islands and following setting up the Dol monastery he returned to Guernsey along with other monks, including St Tugual for whom the church in Herm is named.
It is though he landed at the Braye Du Val, where St Sampson's harbour now is and built a chapel on the site of the current St Sampson's Church.
Sampson is the man credited with bringing Christianity to Guernsey, though it is thought St Martin unsuccessfully attempted the evangelisation of the island some hundred years prior to the arrival of St Sampson.
St Sampson is also mentioned in Guernsey folk lore as having been born in Guernsey before his religious training in Wales and as having lived on Lihou Island at the monastery there, though no factual evidence of this exists.
Following his death St Sampson was buried at the monastery at Dol along with his cousin St Maglorie who participated in Sampson's evangelist missions.
last updated: 28/07/2008 at 11:25
Have Your Say
Do you think Guernsey should mark St Sampson's Day?
Mildred A Wakeham