Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Paul, Bishop of Leon, Confessor
HE was a noble Briton, a native of Cornwall, cousin of St. Samson, and his fellow-disciple under St. Iltutus. We need no other proof of his wonderful fervour and progress in virtue, and all the exercises of a monastic life, than the testimony of Saint Iltutus, by whose advice St. Paul left the monastery to embrace a more perfect eremitical life in a retired place in the same country. Some time after, our saint sailing from Cornwall, passed into Armorica, and continued the same austere eremitical life in a small island on the coast of the Osismians, a barbarous idolatrous people in Armorica, or Little Britain. Prayer and contemplation were his whole employment, and bread and water his only food, except on great festivals, on which he took with his bread a few little fish. The saint, commiserating the blindness of the pagan inhabitants on the coast, passed over to the continent, and instructed them in the faith. Withur, count or governor of Bas, and all that coast, seconded by king Childebert, procured his ordination to the episcopal dignity, notwithstanding his tears to prevent it. Count Withur, who resided in the Isle of Bas, bestowed his own house on the saint to be converted into a monastery; and St. Paul placed in it certain fervent monks, who had accompanied him from Wales and Cornwall. He was himself entirely taken up in his pastoral functions, and his diligence in acquitting himself of every branch of his obligations was equal to his apprehension of their weight. When he had completed the conversion of that country, he resigned his bishopric to a disciple, and retired into the isle of Bas, where he died in holy solitude, on the 12th of March, about the year 573, near one hundred years old.1 During the inroads of the Normans, his relics were removed to the abbey of Fleury, or St. Bennets on the Loire, but were lost when the Calvinists plundered that church. Leon, the ancient city of the Osismians, in which he fixed his see, takes his name. His festival occurs in the ancient Breviary of Leon, on the 10th of October, perhaps the day of the translation of his relics. For in the ancient Breviary of Nantes, and most others, he is honoured on the 12th of March. See Le Cointes Annals, the Bollandists on this day, and Lobineau in the Lives of the Saints of Brittany, from his acts compiled by a monk of Fleury, about the close of the tenth century.
Note 1. St. Paul was ordained priest before he left Great Britain, about the year 530. The little island on the coast of Armorica, where he chose his first abode in France, was called Medonia, and seems to be the present Molene, situated between the Isle of Ushant and the coast. The first oratory which he built on the Continent, very near this island, seems to be the church called from him Lan-Pol. [back]