Padarn (DNB00)

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PADARN (fl. 550), Welsh saint, is the subject of a life printed from the Cottonian MS. Vesp. A. xiv. in ‘Cambro-British Saints’ (188–197), and, in a shorter form, in ‘Acta Sanctorum,’ 15 April, ii. 378, and Capgrave's ‘Nova Legenda Angliæ,’ pp. 258–9. It was abridged about 1200, Phillimore thinks (Cymmrodor, xi. 128), from a fuller narrative. According to this account, Padarn was born of noble Breton parents named Petran and Guean, who both took up the religious life upon his birth. While still a youth he joined his cousins Cadfan, Tydecho, and ‘Hetinlau’ (Trinio?) in their mission to Britain, and with 847 companions founded a church and monastery at a place called ‘Mauritana.’ Thence he visited Ireland; upon his return he founded monasteries and churches throughout Ceredigion (Cardiganshire), and set rulers over them. Maelgwn Gwynedd (d. 550?) sought to injure him, but was himself struck blind, and only regained his sight upon ceding to the saint the district between the Clarach and the Rheidol. David, Teilo, and Padarn journeyed together to Jerusalem, and were there consecrated bishops by the patriarch. Padarn, according to this life, spent the close of his career in Brittany, where he founded a monastery at Vannes; the jealousy of his brothers finally drove him to seek a home among the Franks, in whose country he died on 15 April. Rhygyfarch's ‘Life of St. David’ (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 135–6) and the ‘Life of Teilo’ in the ‘Liber Landavensis’ (ed. Rhys and Evans, pp. 103–7) also narrate the Jerusalem incident.

According to the ‘Genealogies of the Saints,’ Padarn was the son of Pedrwn (Old Welsh Petrun), the son of Emyr Llydaw (Myvyrian Archaiology, 2nd ed. pp. 415, 428; Cambro-British Saints, p. 266; Iolo MSS. 103, 132); the Triads speak of him as one of the three hallowed guests of the Isle of Britain (Myvyrian Arch. pp. 391, 402).

Padarn stands for the Latin Paternus, and the Welsh saint has therefore been identified with the bishop of this name who was at the council of Paris in 557. But this Paternus was bishop of Avranches, not of Vannes, and his life, as narrated by Venantius Fortunatus, is not to be reconciled in other particulars with the Padarn legend. Two bishops of Vannes in the fifth century bore the name Paternus, and it has been suggested that Padarn's supposed connection with the see rests upon a confusion with one of his earlier namesakes (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, i. 145 n.)

Padarn has been regarded not only as a bishop, but also as founder of a diocese of Llanbadarn, which is supposed, on the ground of the position of the churches which are dedicated to him and his followers within the district, to have included North Cardiganshire, with parts of Brecknockshire, Radnorshire, and Montgomeryshire (Rees, Welsh Saints, p. 216). There was certainly a tradition in the time of Giraldus Cambrensis (Itinerarium Kambriæ, ii. 4) that Llanbadarn Fawr had been ‘cathedralis,’ and that one of the bishops had been killed by his own people. Geoffrey of Monmouth says that Cynog, St. David's successor, was at first bishop of Llanbadarn, but there is no other evidence for the assumption. The churches dedicated to Padarn are Llanbadarn Fawr, Llanbadarn Odwyn, and Llanbadarn Tref Eglwys in Cardiganshire; Llanbadarn Fynydd, Llanbadarn Fawr, and Llanbadarn y Garreg in Radnorshire.

[Authorities cited.]

J. E. L.