22nd February 521
St Sampson was ordained a bishop
The actual dates on which anything happened in St Sampson’s life are sketchy at best. He lived in an era where little was written down, and those that were have often been lost in the interim.
We do know one thing for certain, though. On 22 February 521, Guernsey’s patron saint was ordained a bishop by Bishop Dubricius.
Samson (note the missing “p”) had been born in Gwent, Wales, to the daughter of the king of Glamorgan and Gwent. Although technically royalty, he wasn’t one for comfort and excess. After joining the church he moved to monastery on Caldey Island, close to Tenby, off the Pembrokeshire coast. There, he could live the austere life he craved, living and eating simply and abstaining from alcohol.
From Tenby, he moved to Ireland where he either founded or revived a monastery – the details are unclear.
Sampson’s ordination as a Bishop
He was ordained a bishop at the age of 35, and then had a vision telling him to travel. He first heading for Cornwall, the Scilly Isles, and Guernsey. In Guernsey, he founded a wooden chapel close to where St Sampson‘s parish church stands now. Although not the building that Sampson himself constructed, the parish church is one of the oldest buildings in Guernsey. It was consecrated in 1111.
Guernsey adopted him as both its saint, and the name of its second town (the island of Samson in the Scilly Isles is also named after him). Yet his visit was fleeting. After stopping briefly on the island he moved on to Dol, in Brittany, France and founded another monastery. As a result, his full title is now St Samson of Dol, and after his death his remains were buried there in around 565AD.
He is Guernsey’s patron saint, and his feast day is 28 July.
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