St. Morwenna of Morwenstow, Cornwall


Commemorated on July 8

St. Morwenna was one of the many holy daughters of King Brychan Brycheiniog. She was trained in Ireland before becoming one of the Welsh saints who crossed over to Cornwall. Morwenna made her home in a little hermitage at Hennacliff (the Raven’s Crag), afterwards called Morwenstow. It stands near the top of a high cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, where the sea is almost constantly stormy, and from where, in certain atmospheric conditions, the coast of Wales can be seen. She built a church there, for the local people, with her own hands. It is said that she carried the stone on her head from beneath the cliff and where she once stopped for a rest, a spring gushed forth. The spring can still be seen to the west of the church.

Early in the sixth century, while she lay dying, her brother, St. Nectan, came to see her, and she asked him to raise her up so that she might look once more on her native shore. She was buried at the church in Morwenstow.

A painting was later found on the north wall of the Morwenstow church, thought to represent St. Morwenna. It shows a gaunt female clasping a scroll to her breast with her left hand; the right arm is raised in blessing over a kneeling monk.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)