Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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SAMSON ( c. 485 - 565 ), abbot and bishop in the Celtic Church ;

son of Amwn (of Dyfed ) and Anna (of Gwent ). He was taught by Illtud at Llan Illtud ( Dyfed ) from 490 on and was ordained deacon and priest by Dyfrig at Illtud 's request. He went to Pŷr 's monastery (again in Dyfed ) and on Pŷr 's death succeeded him as abbot . He then visited Ireland where there are churches bearing his name at Ballygriffin , near Dublin , and Bally Samson , in the county of Wexford . Returning to Dyfed he became a hermit in a cave near Stackpole Elidr . In 521 , on the Feast of the Enthronement of S. Peter , i.e. 22 Feb. , he was consecrated bishop by Dyfrig and others. He then sailed to Cornwall ( Padstow , Southill , and Fowey ) where he lived for some years, his influence extending to the Scilly Isles . Thence he went to Brittany where he spent the rest of his life; this must have been before 547 , at which time Teilo , who had fled from the Yellow Death , visited him there. Samson 's outstanding achievement in Brittany was the release of Iudual , a young prince of Northern Brittany , from the slavery in which he was kept in Paris by Childebert , the Frankish king , at the request of the crafty governor , Chonomor . After the defeat and death of Chonomor , Samson once more visited Paris to attend the episcopal diet of the Franks held in 556 and on this occasion signed the resolutions as ‘ Samson peccator episcopus .’ He d. 28 July, 565 .


  • Baring-Gould and J. Fisher , The Lives of the British Saints , iv, 130-70;
  • T. Taylor , The Life of St. Samson of Dol (London, 1925) (S.P.C.K.);
  • Hugh Williams , Christianity in Early Britain (Oxford, 1912) , and his edition of 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 ;
  • T. Taylor , The Celtic Christianity of Cornwall divers sketches and studies (London, 1916) .


Chancellor John Williams James, D.D., Aber, Bangor

Published date: 1959