Saint Gwinear was a Celtic martyr, one of only two early Cornish saints whose biographies survived the Reformation. The Life of Gwinear was written in the early 14th century by a priest named Anselm, and has sometimes been printed among Saint Anselm's works.[Notes 1] His feast day is March 23.
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
Born in Ireland with the Irish name of Fingar, he was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick and after spending time in Brittany went with 7 (or 777) companions to Cornwall, landing at Hayle, where he was martyred by King Teudar.[Notes 2] Saint Gwinear was said to have died with his followers by being thrown into a pit of reptiles.
The Victorian clergyman, hagiographer and antiquary Sabine Baring-Gould believed that an Irish group, driven from their homeland in Ossory in the fifth century, invaded Penwith (="pen-gwaeth", the "bloody headland"), and that the legend of Gwinear was a distorted recollection of these events.
- Gilbert Hunter Doble (1960) includes a translation of a large part of the text in which the saint's name is given as Guigner; Doble suggests that this Breton form indicates a connection with Brittany where the saint is also venerated.
- King Teudar also appears as a tyrant in the early 16th-century plays Beunans Ke and Beunans Meriasek, in which he comes into conflict with Saints Kea and Meriasek, respectively.
- Doble, G. H. (1960) The Saints of Cornwall: part 1. Truro: Dean and Chapter; pp. 100-110
- Ogden, R. A. The Life of Saint Gwinear [play originally written for Penzance Girls' Grammar School], in: An Unknown Planet?, Park Corner Press, Warrington, 2008; pp. 1-52
- Baring-Gould, Sabine, 1899, A Book of the West: Cornwall, Methuen, pp 285, 305
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- Mooney, Ambrose. "St. Gwinear, St. Phiala & Companions, Martyrs". CelticSaints.org.