Monday, April 9, 2012

Saint Materiana

Saint Materiana is a Welsh saint and princess of the 5th century who is patron of two churches in Cornwall and one in Wales. Alternative spellings are Madrun, Madryn, Merthiana, and Mertheriana: the name was corrupted to Marcelliana in medieval times. She was the eldest of three daughters of King Vortimer the Blessed and after her father's death ruled over Gwent with her husband Prince Ynyr.

The mother church of Boscastle is Minster, dedicated to St Materiana, and nestling among the trees of Minster Wood in the valley of the River Valency half-a-mile east of Boscastle at grid reference SX 110 904. The original Forrabury / Minster boundary crossed the river so the harbour end of the village was in Forrabury and the upriver area in Minster. The churches were established some time earlier than the settlement at Boscastle (in Norman times when a castle was built there). The Celtic name of Minster was Talkarn but it was renamed Minster in Anglo-Saxon times because of a monastery on the site. Until the Reformation St Materiana's tomb was preserved in the church. (Another spelling of her name sometimes used is 'Mertheriana' but the usual Latin form is Materiana.) Traditions of the saint were recorded by William Worcestre in 1478: he states that her tomb was venerated at Minster and her feast day was April 9. However the parish feast traditionally celebrated at Tintagel was October 19, the feast day of St Denys, patron of the chapel at Trevena (the proper date is October 9 but the feast has moved forward due to the calendar reform of 1752).

The first church at Tintagel was probably in the 6th century, founded as a daughter church of Minster: these are the only churches dedicated to the saint though she is usually identified with Madryn, Princess of Gwent, who has a church dedicated to her at Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. At Tintagel Parish Church there are two memorials which portray St Materiana: a statue in the chancel and a stained glass window in the nave.

* Extract from a Hymn to St Materiana in use at Tintagel

"Materiana, holy Mother, / Over thy people still preside, / Over thy household clothed in scarlet, / Vesture of love and holy pride; / Thy children rise and call thee blessed, / Gathered around thee at thy side."

Other Saints who share the April 9 Feast Day
* St. Acacius
* St. Waldetrudis
* Bl. Thomas of Tolentino
* St. Casilda of Toledo
* St. Demetrius
* St. Dotto
* St. Eupsychius
* St. Gaucherius
* St. Hedda
* St. Hugh of Rouen
* St. Materiana
* Martyrs of Croyland
* Martyrs of Pannonia

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