Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PAUL AURELIAN , saint , fl. late 5th cent.

The ‘Life’ of this saint, completed in 884 by Wrmonoc , monk of Landdévnnec in Brittany , is preserved in two early manuscripts, the text of which has been published in the Rev. Celt. , and in Annal. Boll , respectively. The ‘Life’ is divided into two books. Book i, which describes Paul 's life in South Wales , tells that S. Paul , surnamed Aurelian, the son of a count named Perphirius , was a native of Penychen in south-east Glamorgan . He and his eight brothers lived in a district called ‘ Brehant Dincat ,’ which Doble identifies with Llandingat (i.e. Llandovery ). At a tender age, he was placed by his parents in the school of S. Illtud , where David , Samson , and Gildas were fellow-pupils. At the age of sixteen Paul left S. Illtud 's monastery to live a hermit 's life in a lonely place, where he was ordained priest by an un-named bishop . Some time later, at the request of king Mark , probably a Cornish king , he left his retreat and came to ‘ Caer Banhed ,’ where he laboured to establish Christianity . Quitting this kingdom too after a while, he stayed for a brief spell at the settlement of his sister Sitofolla , and then departed to Brittany . Book ii describes S. Paul 's work in Brittany , where his chief foundation was the bishopric of S. Pol-de-Léon . He d. at an advanced age on the island of Batz . Though Wrmonoc claims to have based his work on an earlier ‘Life,’ he could have derived little of his material for Book i from such a source. The identification of S. Paul with the ‘ Poul Pennichen ’ mentioned in the ‘ Vita Codoci ’ is responsible for the description of S. Paul as a native of Penychen . A further identification of S. Paul with the Carmarthenshire S. Paulinus (q.v.) led Wrmonoc to attach to S. Paul traditions from the Llandovery district which appertained to the Welsh saint . S. Paul is named as a pupil of S. Illtud in the ‘ Life of S. Illtud ’ (chapter xi) and the Rhuys ‘ Life of S. Gildas ’ (chapter iii). Both 12 March and 10 Oct. are quoted as his feast-day.


  • The Lives of the British Saints , iv, 75-86;
  • Revue Celtique (1870–1934) , v, 413-60;
  • Analecta Bollandiana , i, 208-58;
  • Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae (Cardiff, 1944) , 208;
  • H. Williams , Gildae De excidio Britanniae fragmenta, Liber de paenitentia, accedit et Lorica Gildae / Gildas The ruin of Britain, fragments from lost letters, The penitential, together with the Lorica of Gildas , 328;
  • Le Grand , Les vies des Saints de la Bretagne-Armorique (1837) , 98-115;
  • Duine , Memento des sources hagiographiques del'histoire de Bretagne (1918) , 58-61;
  • G. H. Doble , Saint Paul of Léon , and Welsh Saints Series Saint Paulinus of Wales. A recent discovery about the founder of St-Pol-de-Leon (1942) .


Hywel David Emanuel, M.A., (1921-70), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959