Saint-Nonne, Finistère, Brittany
Today is the feast of Saint Katharine Drexel, the American heiress who opposed racism and poverty and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Her brief biography tells us that, after seeing her stepfather’s long death and realising that all the Drexel millions could do nothing to buy escape from suffering, pain and death, she used her fortune to try to do some good in the world.
It is also the feast of the less well-known saint Saint Non, Nonne or Nonna. Saint Non was the mother of Saint David and legend tells us that after being raped, Saint Non gave birth to the great champion of Welsh Christianity. His feast was last Saturday and I missed it. Sorry – Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus! When David was being born, Saint Non grasped a rock to ease her pains – the rock split asunder and was said to have been incorporated into the church built in memory of his birth.
Saint Non founded a convent at Llanon, where Saint David was said to have been brought up. Her relics were venerated in Cornwall and her church, the largest on Bodmin Moor, was known as the ‘Cathedral of the Moor’; it features in Daphne du Maurier’s riproaring romance, Jamiaca Inn. St Non’s holy wells were said to have healing powers, as ever. It is also said that the saint ended her days in Brittany ( where there is also a commune called Saint-Divy after her son) ; the statue which is shown above is from her church at Dirinon – I find the image of a Dark Ages female saint with a spade in one hand and a book in the other exceptionally charming. Hoorah.
Sainte-Nonne image rights here.