Make me an island

St Cadfan

Feast Day (new calendar): 
November 1st
Feast Day (old calendar): 
October 19th


Bardsey IslandBardsey Island

Bardsey, or Ynys Enlli in Welsh, is a small island near the Llŷn Peninsula—2.5km long and about 1km wide. Over the course of its existence, the island became a crucial location for the Celtic Christian Church, attracting many monks and pilgrims. It was the place where Saint Cadfan founded his famous monastery. The Celtic churches before the Norman conquest had a distinct monastic character, being relatively decentralised compared to the Roman church, and organised around monasteries and abbots rather than bishops residing in urban centres. By the early 6th century Wales had several tens of established monastic communities. The monastery was a focal point of evangelisation and education from which priests could reach out to the laity of the neighbouring daughter churches. Such centres of monastic devotion and pastoral care presented a special model known as clas, an autonomous community with the abbot as its leader. Later in the 11th century Celtic monasteries of the clas type complied with the Roman system and became Benedectine and Augustinian orders. 


St CadfanSt Cadfan

Cadfan came over to Wales from Armorica (part of contemporary France) towards the end of the 5th century, as part of a large group of saints and learned men, with the desire to renew the faith of the local people. On arrival, Cadfan founded a church on the Welsh mainland, whilst later he went on to found a monastery on the nearby Bardsey Island. Having come to Wales as part of a large group (numbering several hundred), it is perhaps understandable that Cafdan, alongside a selection of companions, chose to move toward the relative isolation of Bardsey. Here the pressing political and military conflicts sometimes stirred up on the mainland would have become a more distant reality, the relatively treacherous sea crossing serving to create a place of solitude and retreat. It is impossible, however, to consider Cadfan’s story simply as an entirely solo undertaking, and it remains tempting to consider the later popularity of Bardsey in relation to the size of the group that came across with him, the influx of people able to make an impact beyond that of a single man on his own. Whilst we know relatively little of Cadfan’s life a later ode in praise of Cadfan by Llewellyn Fardd largely focuses on his legacy, the church he established standing as a monument dedicated to God, a place of worship that stands as a pillar of the Gospel, a place of devotion, belief and communion. Cadfan’s shaping of this area of Welsh landscape as a place of God comes down to us where much about the man himself has been lost to obscurity.

Church of fair Cadfan, brilliant to behold
Bright whitewashed church proudly whitened,
As though it had been fashioned by God himself
He fashioned for the Godhead a choice residence
When he came from Brittany to the community of Christendom
The blessed youth nurtured no sin:
May God bless the devout servant. [...]
Blessed the voyage of his company
When he came to the realm night by night, day by day,
When there came to the issue of Emyr the desire to gaze upon
Aber Menwenfer in the evening and in the morning [...]
The noble country of Cadfan where there coexist always
the noble gospel, humble guide, [...]
May the valiant wise God guard Cadfan's domain
(Song to Cadfan - Llewlyn Fardd I)


Bardsey has a particular reputation as a place of pilgrimage; firstly for the saying that three pilgrimages to Bardsey were equivalent to one journey to Rome, and secondly for its reputation as the burial-place of 20,000 saints. It is easy to be suspicious of mathematical calculation of the merits of pilgrimage, and in such wariness we find ourselves in good company. The fathers of the church, in their discussions of pilgrimage, are always keen to guard against its mis-use, and to outline what it does and doesn’t mean within a Christian worldview. A focus on the ability to approach God from any place is often combined with an emphasis on the Christian’s spiritual pilgrimage towards heavenly things, as a stranger no longer attached to or at home in the world. Nevertheless, within such an understanding it is clear that from an early stage pilgrimage became a crucial part of Christian practice. In one sense, pilgrimage represents precisely such dislocation from the world, abandoning the comforts of house and home in order to set out on a devotional journey of repentance and transformation mapped out by the things of God. For Saint Jerome it seems to represent the gathering together side by side of precisely those who are members of the scattered and non-localised kingdom of God in a beautiful and priceless vision of the church. Similarly, in their veneration of relics—a phenomenon often associated with pilgrimage—the early Christians are careful to steer clear of potential misunderstandings of this practice as something akin to the worship of idols, and to make it clear, instead that whilst the saints are honoured through acts of devotion it is ultimately the God whom they served who is being worshipped through such acts. Such veneration, and the potential for the granting of miracles through relics and saintly remains demonstrates the ongoing life of such holy men and women as part of the communion of saints—those who had united themselves to God in this life continue to unite themselves to him beyond the grave and continue to share fellowship with those remaining on earth. 


Leaving thy native Brittany for the love of Christ, O Father Cadfan,
thou dost teach us not to love places or things more than Him.
Wherefore, O holy one, intercede for us that we may be faithful to our calling and found worthy of great mercy


Cadfan and Bardsey:
Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (editors 2013) Monastic Wales: New Approaches. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Mark Redknap (1991) The Christian Celts: Treasures of Late Celtic Wales. Cardiff: National Museum of Wales.
G Hartwell Jones (1912) Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement. London: The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion.
Pippa Marland (2014) ‘Island of the dead’: composting twenty-thousand saints on Bardsey Island, Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 18:1, 78-90
WJ Rees (translator 1740) The Liber Landavensis. London: The Welsh MSS Society. 
Sabine Baring-Gould and John Fisher (1908) The lives of the British saints (Vol II). London: The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion.  
Meryl Gover (2015) Cadfan’s Church: A History with Digressions. Leicester: Matador

Writings of the Fathers:

St Thecla

Feast Day (new calendar): 
October 28th
Feast Day (old calendar): 
October 15th

Multiple identities

Chapel rock at BeachleyChapel rock at Beachley

There are several attestations of the cult of Thecla in Britain. All of them seem to have some relation with the cult of ancient Thecla protomartyr, Paul's companion, known from the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. This indicates the acquaintance of the church on the British Isles with Eastern saints in general and the cult of St Thecla in particular.

Whereas St Thecla of Kitzingen is presented well in historical sources, another saint – Tetha or Tecla is more obscure. She was venerated in Cornwall as a companion of 5th century female saint, Irish nun Breaca in her missionary work in Cornwall. Even more obscure is St Tecla or Tegla Virgin known at a Welsh village Llandegla which means “Parish of Saint Tecla” in Welsh. She is said to be the daughter of a ruler of Gwynedd, north Wales. A church dedication to Thecla can be read also in the town Llandegley, Radnorshire.

The calendar is also problematic. St Thecla of Kitzingen is celebrated either on October 15 or 28, while Tetha's feast day is on October 27, according to one source. Both Welsh places bearing Tegla's names had festivals around 24th September, which is the feast day of Thecla the protomartyr. One of them, Llandegla, had a large fair on October 15th, the day of St Thecla of Kitzingen.

Baring-Gould in the Lives of British Saints is sceptical about the fact that the chapel on an islet rock at the mouth of Wye, near Bristol, was originally dedicated to the Welsh Tecla Virgin. Nevertheless, the story goes that the saint abandoned her father's court in Wales to become an anchoress on the island and suffered martyrdom from sea pirates there. The island is tiny and rocky and the access to it is restricted by the tidal waters. The ruins of the hermitage chapel date to the 13th century although an older building preceded it.  

Thecla of Wimborne/Kitzingen

Thecla protomartyrThecla protomartyr

Thecla of Wimborne/Kitzingen’s choice of name may well reflect a conscious choice to identify with the the story of Paul and Thecla, and to take upon herself a dedication to the path of virginity and asceticism. Thecla pursued this path, initially at Wimborne abbey in Dorset where, for a time she became part of a community of nuns. The community at Wimborne was one of a number with which the 8th century monk, St Boniface maintained an intimate relationship through exchanges of letters via which he and the monastic communities supported and encouraged one another in their tasks and life of faith. It is this contact with Boniface which led Thecla to pursue the role for which she is best known. For a long time, Boniface had desired to establish a mission to the Germans. The Germans were, at the time, at odds with the beliefs and practices of the rest of the church "liberal in tolerating heathen practices, and ignorant of matters of ritual and creed which were insisted on in the Church of Rome" (Eckenstein). Boniface was “conscious that the mere conversion of people and the provision of churches for them to worship in was insuficient … A succession of teachers of caliber, imbued with a strong spirit of sciripline, obedient to authority and motivation by the highest spiritual ideals [were needed]” (Sladden). In 716, therefore he set out towards the continent. Such a mission was not, however, a solo project, and Boniface’s relationship with the abbey in Wimborne (and, in particular with another sister, Lioba) here bore fruit. Thecla was one of a number to join Boniface on the continent and to establish monastic communities there. It was a period in the history of Anglo-Saxon church when double monasteries flourished with monks and nuns helping each other, even though living separately, and this gave women an opportunity to take on leadership and rule over communities that included both males and females. Boniface saw women's leadership as important for his mission. Thecla became abbess of communities at Kitzingen and Ochsenfurt, and it is clear that her life and work there carried a great deal of weight. A later document, the Passion of Boniface describes Thecla as shining like a light in a dark place, whilst a letter from Boniface shows signs of obvious affection, spiritual esteem and reliance upon Thecla and those around her. 

To my beloved sisters worthy of all honour and affection, Lioba and Tecla and Cynehilda, and all the dear sisters in Christ who live with you, greetings of undying love. 

I beseech, nay all but command you, my dear daughters, to implore God with incessant prayers, as I trust that you do now and have done and will do unceasingly, that we may be delivered, in the words of the apostle, “from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith”

Men and Women

Boniface baptising and being martyred Boniface baptising and being martyred

Thecla’s story, at least according to the documents we have, may seem somewhat overshadowed by that of Boniface. The story we find, however, shows Boniface as a man who derived much of his courage and persistence from the presence of the female communities around him, suggesting that it was their devotion to prayer and their steadfastness in faith, as much as his initial journey, which lay behind the mission. Thecla, as an abbess, was a spiritual leader, not simply a follower, shining not just a reflected light from others around her, but giving forth spiritual light from her own reserves of prayer and dedication into the communities and world around her. If we refocus the narrative around her we find the story of a saint to whose community Boniface comes in need, who, within her prayers finds room for his tasks and mission and who, perhaps on the basis of such prayers, sees it right to enact their fulfilment in the world and not simply to stand on the sidelines. 

Monasticism and mission

It is not hard to see why monasticism was at the heart of the mission to the Germans. Faced with the challenges of the continental situation, it provided a means of remaining strong in the faith and of total devotion to the teachings and ways of the church. Without such dedication it is easy to see the missionary endeavour faltering and fizzling out, lacking the spiritual heart which provided both much of its courage and its ability to embody the gospel. It may well be that the disciplined life of prayer compelled Boniface to go out in the first place while the dedication to this life meant that the missionaries had anything to offer the German people. A monastic community of nuns could easily become a centre of mission, attracting those around as they followed their chosen path of dedication and interceded to God so that others, too, would be delivered and blessed. One story of Thecla tells of the rise of a storm which so terrifies the people of the village that they urge the nuns to pray for their deliverance. Thecla, turning to fellow nun, Leoba, urges her to pray that the storm might stop, reminding her that 'all the hopes of these people lie in you'. 

Whilst we are not aware of a Troparion dedicated specifically to Thecla of Wimborne/Kitzingen, the following prayer from the service to all British saints makes specific mention of her mission to the Germans.


With zeal overspilling from the Isles, to those who knew not the Word of Christ thou didst go out with streams of living water, O divine Clement, Apostle of the Frisians, followed by the Archpastor Boniface, Apostle of the German lands, who with all his helpers, Willibald, Winnibald, Walburgh, Lioba, Thecla and Willehad, brought light to the darkness, and together with a great host, wast counted worthy of a martyr's crown, and ye were followed by Sigfrid out of Glastonbury, the Apostle of the Swedes.

Image credits:,_Beachley.jpg

Sources for further reading:

On Thecla of Wimborne/Kitzingen and the German mission: 
Sabine Baring-Gould (1907) The lives of the British saints.  London: The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. (
Lina Eckenstein (1963) Woman under monasticism. New York: Russell & Russell. (
Felice Lifshitz (2004) The persistence of late antiquity: Christ as man and woman in an eight-century miniature. Medieval Feminist Forum 38: 18—27. (
Edward Kylie (1911) The English Correspondence of Saint Boniface. London: Chatto & Windus. (
Miriam Schmitt & Linda Kulzer (1996) Medieval women monastics: wisdom’s wellsprings. Collegeville: Liturgical Press. 
John Cyril Sladden (1980). Boniface of Devon. Greenwood: Attic Press.
St Thecla. Catholic Encyclopedia.

On Thecla Protomartyr: 
Stephen J Davis (2001) The cult of St Thecla: A tradition of womens’ piety in late antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Acts of Paul and Thecla (

St Frideswide

Feast Day (new calendar): 
November 1st
Feast Day (old calendar): 
October 19th

Her life

St FrideswideSt Frideswide Our knowledge of Frideswide (c.680-727) comes from three main interrelated sources: a brief narrative by the 11th Century historian William of Malmesbury and two, much longer, 12th century lives written in Latin. Whilst Malmesbury’s account has traditionally been the most highly regarded, John Blair has argued persuasively that the Latin accounts are based on earlier traditions rather than, as is often assumed, being mere elaborations of Malmesbury’s work. These three surviving accounts describe how Frideswide, the daughter of a king, renounced the prosperity of marriage in order to devote herself to Christ as a nun, steadfastly devoting herself to learning, fasting and prayer alongside a community of 12 other girls. After the death of Frideswide’s father, King Algar succeeded to the throne and attempted to force the saint into marriage contrary to her vows, desiring Frideswide as ‘partner for his bed and kingdom’. However God offered his protection, blinding, variously in the accounts, both Algar and the men he had sent to capture Frideswide. Whilst Malmesbury records how the blinded king recovered his sight through repentance and a change of heart, the Latin lives describe how Algar’s envoys recover their sight whilst the king himself ends his days in continued blindness. Despite the accounts’ disagreement on specifics, Frideswide’s later life is marked in each by healing miracles of some kind: the story, for example, of a leper who, making the ‘outrageous’ request of a kiss from the saint, is ‘to everyone’s wonder’ healed at the touch of their mouths and another of how, after attempting to hide away in the seclusion of Thornbiri, (which Malmesbury tells us later became Binsey) Frideswide is persuaded to cure a youth whose hand has somehow become stuck to his axe whilst chopping wood. 


The minster in Oxford before the University

Church of St Margaret, BinseyChurch of St Margaret, Binsey


Geographically, the life of St Frideswide can be mapped around several locations in Oxfordshire. Firstly, Oxford itself: This is where Frideswide's family lived and ruled, where she was born and where she was consecrated to be a nun. The lives inform us that king Didan, Frideswide's father, constructed new buildings for the nuns within the city. This account is in agreement with the common Anglo-Saxon pattern of royal foundation and support for nunneries predestined for the highest-ranking women in the society.

After Frideswide's death her remnants were buried in St Mary's church, presumably, the minster, which was enlarged above the saint's grave and later transformed into the Christ Church Cathedral. In 1002 the fire destroyed the buildings of the monastic community along with all the records. The canons were refounded at that place only in 1122, now following the Rule of St Augustine. The Augustinians excavated Frideswide's grave in 1180 and translated her relics with great solemnities to a special shrine within the church. The cult of the saint was thus established: pilgrims started visiting the relics and miracles were recorded and publicized. Frideswide's association with Oxford was quite strong: in one of Chaucer's tales, John, the Oxford carpenter, invokes Frideswide as his patron saint. During the Reformation Firdeswide's shrine in the cathedral was destroyed and her relics desecrated.

Frideswide's nunnery outside the city

Another significant location is Binsey ('Byne's island'), one of the places where – according to the lives – the saint took refuge from king Algar and where she spent a period of her life performing miracles. The biographical account says that Frideswide went to Binsey for ascetic reasons, seeking solitude from the admiring crowds: “So they travelled swiftly by boat to the estate called Binsey near the city. Here they disembarked, and Frideswide decided to stay for a while in solitude; their sisters could come there easily, and it would be protected from the crowds of townsfolk”. Then the abbess built an oratory and other buildings for the nuns and opened a spring of water known as St Margaret's well. However, it is possible that the whole episode is a late addition and Binsey became associated with Frideswide as late as the 12th c. through the author of the life. It's not unlikely that the Binsey estate came into the possession of the monastery after St Frideswide's death. In any case, the accounts imply that the Binsey chapel had already existed for some time in the 12th century and was considered to be a place of special holiness. The Thames also plays an important role in the lives because Frideswide made several journeys traveling with her nuns from and back to Oxford by the river.  

Connections to St Margaret

Interestingly, the story of St Frideswide and her nunnery is associated with the cult of St Margaret as the latter is the patron saint of the church in Binsey. Although the 12th century writer Robert of Cricklade, prior of St Frideswide's priory in Oxford and author of the saint's life, attributes the Binsey chapel to St Frideswide, other, later, sources speak of it as dedicated to St Margaret. A text dated 1323 refers to the chapel at Binsey in honour of St Frideswide and St Margaret. St Margaret of Antioch is celebrated as a virgin-martyr in Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Churches. She was one of the most important female saints of the English church in the 14th-15th centuries, having been a popular saint since the 9th century According to the legends, St Margaret was tortured around 2nd/3rd century AD by the Roman ruler Olybrius who wished to persuade her to marry him and to renounce Christianity. Miraculous incidents of her martyrdom include conquering a dragon through the power of the holy Cross. The parallels between Frideswide, the Western nun, and Margaret, the Eastern martyr, are obvious: they were both virgins who chose to serve Christ, renouncing marriage offered by an impious royal figure. The episodes in which royal suitors approach them and try to incline them into earthly love and marriage are common to many female saints lives of both East and West and record particular ideas that existed in the Christian church about female religious and social roles. At the same time, although St Frideswide herself was not a martyr, the ascetic toils and inner fight with the passions which she undertook during her life as a nun correlate in the church tradition with the sufferings typically associated with a martyr.

Binsey and us

Binsey, for us, has become a place of regular pilgrimage. The church provides a place of connection with the Christian traditions of earlier times, and with the devotion of Frideswide herself. The countryside and opportunities for meetings with different animals on the way to the church offer space for reflection on the journey away from Oxford’s busy city life, whilst the empty space of the building itself has become an environment in which we have been able to recreate traditions of Orthodox prayer in a place where they often remain silent. Whilst in many ways idyllic, Binsey is nevertheless a very human environment; the different devotional practices of visitors to the church frequently come face to face with those out to enjoy the beauty of the spot and the journey to the church is frequently taken alongside those setting out to the visit the local pub or to enjoy the pleasures of port meadow. Binsey remains, as it did for Frideswide, a place where heavenly and earthly realities interact and engage in both competition and cooperation.


Come, let us solemnly rejoice today, and let us laud the virtues and struggles of the most splendid luminary of the Western lands: Frideswide, great among ascetics, the most praiseworthy instructor of nuns, who watcheth over us from her dwelling-place on high; for the Lord hath truly made her wondrous among His saints. By her supplications may He save our souls.  

See for discussion of Troparia.

Further liturgical material can be found in the Canon of St Frideswide (based largely on material from A canon is an part of Orthodox service that praises the saint. It has 9 odes based on 9 Biblical canticles, 


Sources for further reading:

Lydia Carr, Russell Dewhurst, and Martin Henig (Editors), Binsey: Oxford's holy place—Its saint, village and people. Archaeopress and St Frideswide's PCC, 2014.

John Blair, Church in Anglo-Saxon society. Oxford University Press, 2005.

John Blair, 'Saint Frideswide Reconsidered', Oxoniensia 52, 1987. Pp. 71-127. (

John Blair (Editor), Saint Frideswide's Monastery at Oxford: Archaeological and Architectural Studies. Gloucester, 1990.

Sherry Reames (Editor), Middle English Legends of Women Saints. Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2003. (

And a forthcoming book by Juliana Dresvina on the cult of St Margaret of Antioch in Western Europe.

St Lide

Feast Day (new calendar): 
August 21st
Feast Day (old calendar): 
August 8th

Saint Lide, who is also known by variants such as Elid or Elidius, was a Cornish hermit who made his residence on what is now known as St Helens in the Isles of Scilly. Whilst relatively little is known about him, it seems clear that he played an important role in establishing the Island as a site of Christian devotion. This tradition continues to the present day with the annual pilgrimage to the island in 2014 being joined by around a hundred people including a local bishop.

St Lide and Olaf Tryggvason

The view from St Helen's

A hermit living on the Scilly islands is mentioned in Heimskringla, a collection of sagas about Old Norse kings written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. One of the sagas tells a story about king Olaf's gradual conversion to Christianity. The episode that interests us runs as follows: The Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvason was going on a long-term visit (985-988) to the British Isles and, after visiting Scotland and Ireland, he “came to the islands called the Scilly Isles, lying westward from England in the ocean”. There he met a hermit who in the holy spirit foretold to  him about his future kingdom. After the prophecy was fulfilled Olaf returned to the holy man and asked him about his wisdom."The hermit replied, that the Christian God himself let him know all that he desired; and he brought before Olaf many great proofs of the power of the Almighty. In consequence of this encouragement Olaf agreed to let himself be baptized, and he and all his followers were baptized forthwith. He remained here a long time, took the true faith, and got with him priests and other learned men."

So was Saint Lide the hermit who conferred with Olaf? The reconstructions involve a lot of guesswork. The story of a saint predicting a kingdom to a future king is a typical legendary pattern and some scholars suggest that it was taken from Pope Gregory's story about the conversion of the Gothic king Totila after meeting St. Benedict. An earlier saga by Oddr Snorrason, a 12th century Icelandic monk, also reports that Olaf was baptised on the Scilly Islands in 993. However, the legend may go back to the 11th century since among the sources for Heimskringla were scaldic poems belonging to a long-lived oral tradition. In any case, the account in the Norwegian sagas may reflect the existence of a Christian community on the Scilly Islands that was famous for its spiritual toils and gifts.

Cults of saints in Cornwall

Although the early history of Christianity in Cornwall is somewhat murky, there is evidence from an account of the life of St Samson of Dol that it was probably well-established prior to his arrival in the 6th Century. It thus goes back well before that time, possibly even to the early centuries after Christ. Whilst Lide’s shrine can be singled out for its continued ability to draw distant pilgrims through until the later middle ages, Lide stands within a rich and multi-faceted Cornish tradition of veneration. Nicholas Orme suggests that, whilst the presence of saint cults in Cornwall was not necessarily particularly unusual, what is unusual about Cornwall is its possession of a great number of distinctive local saints in addition to its veneration of more-international figures. Evidence for these can still be found dotted around the cornish countryside in the forms of place names and buildings named after particular figures. The names of St Austell or St Ives, for example will be familiar to any tourist.

Hermits and islands

The Hermit's Hut on St Helen's

Helen O’Neil suggests that the Isles of Scilly ‘were the type of site which attracted the early Celtic Christians’, noting the large number of Celtic monastic sites that were founded in the 5th and 6th centuries. A remote site such as this clearly provides an attractive location for the solitary aspects of life as a monk or hermit. Even today islands around Britain remain important pilgrimage sites, the islands of Iona and Lindisfarne being popular examples. Evidence for a cult on St Helen’s comes from a number of sources. Pope Pius II, writing in 1461 speaks of ‘The faithful who go in great numbers to the chapel of St Elidius’, granting indulgences to those who visit as a result of the site’s need for repair following raids from pirates (whom he excommunicates). Likewise the poet and antiquary John Leland, writing in the 16th Century mentions ‘Saynct Lide’s Isle, where in tymes past at her sepulchre was gret superstition’. The island houses the remains of a number of buildings, the earliest being a round hermit’s hut and oratory probably belonging to the founder. The earliest pottery dates back to the 11th century suggesting this as the period around which the island began to be inhabited. By the early 12th century O’Neil suggests that ‘the original hermit must have become a figure of veneration, as St Ilid, and have been commemorated by the erection of a chapel to mark the site of his grave’. Three rectangular huts, all enclosed by a precinct wall indicate the expansion of the site to house multiple hermits following in Lide’s footsteps.

Why did St Lide choose a remote uninhabitated island to live and to serve God? The tradition of Christian asceticism, which goes back to the Egyptian monks of the 4th century, supposes that one may save his soul and approach God only by renouncing the world's pleasures and by taking on an ongoing fight with one's own sinful passions. Christian hermits of past ages were determined to leave their ordinary life behind and to explore completely new places in order to start their new life in Christ there. Perhaps, a small island, being naturally isolated, seemed to St Lide a perfect place for praising God, thanking Him for the beauty of His creation and contemplating his own inner spiritual life.


A troparion in the Eastern Orthodox tradition is a short hymn in honor of a saint or a holiday. It summarises in one stanza the key points of the saints' life and deeds or the main events of the holiday, usually in a poetic way. E.g. the troparion of Christmas:

Your birth, O Christ our God, dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth. For by Your birth those who adored stars were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to know You, Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You.

The troparion is usually sung to one of 8 tones but can be also said without music. Not all saints have their troparia written. In cases where a saint doesn't have a troparion yet, we shall compose it ourselves based on the main principles of this liturgical genre.


O honorable father, adornment of the Scilly islands! You have disdained all wordly glory and fleeing from inhabitated places you have reached a deserted island to find the eternal beauty in a hermit's cell. 
And thus the glory of your name reached the far lands over the seas and people still gather around your holy grave praising the God and singing:
Saint Lide, pray to Christ our Lord for us.

Image credit:

For further discussion of Olaf's conversion and its historical context see Sverre Bagge (2006) 'The Making of a Missionary King: The Medieval Accounts of Olaf Tryggvason and the Conversion of Norway' In: The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 105.4 , pp. 473-513.

Other sources for further reading include:

Nicholas Orme (2000) The Saints of Cornwall. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Helen O'Neil (1964) 'Excavation of a Celtic Hermitage on St Helen's, Scilly, 1956-58'. In: Archaeological Journal 121.

David Farmer (2011) Oxford Dictionary of Saints. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

King Olaf Trygvason's Saga