john davies
notes from a small curate


    Blue Coat School 22/10/03

    Hebrews 11.32 - 12.2

    What makes a person a Saint? The Cut-Throat Celts (Horrible Histories p.33-5) tells us:

    The main thing needed to be a saint is to have:
    - a very good life
    - a very messy death
    - an incredible miracle happen.

    For example:
      Saint Teilo - whose corpse became three bodies;
      Saint Olcan - who was buried alive at birth and rescued by a nobleman;
      Saint Monessa - who, at her baptism, died from the happiness.
    These stories concentrate on very messy deaths and incredible miracles. The third main thing you need to be a saint is to have a very good life.

    And despite the stories we've just heard about them, people like Teilo, Olcan and Monessa were remembered first and foremost because they lived lives which touched many people because of their goodness, kindness, helpfulness, their great worth to their local community.

    The myths and legends about them came later. What came first were churches - which they established. And placenames, as little villages and towns were set up around them. The British Isles is full of saints names: St Helens, St Albans, St Asaph; places with Kirk in their name were set up around a local saint's church - like Kirkby, Ormskirk, for instance. In Wales Llan means church, so every town beginning Llan remembers a local saint - like Llandeilo for Saint Teilo, Llandudno for Saint Tudno.

    Thery're not that famous, these little local saints. Not remembered very much outside the places they lived and worked. Perhaps that's why their biographers have felt the need to embellish their stories over the centuries with amazing miracles and strange deaths. But they were good, faithful people, who impressed those who knew them with their goodness. And when it comes down to it, that's all a saint is really. There's probably one or two living down your road. You might even be one yourself.