St Petroc and the Monstrous Dragon

 Saint Petroc lived his life by values of love, kindness, forgiveness, loyalty and faith. A solver of problems and a miracle worker, Petroc was happy to help both people and animals. He gathered about him a group of monks and together they built a new priory in Bodmin. Petroc found himself establishing his life as a hermit on the one hand and a leader of monks on the other. One day, as he was praying quietly, much commotion and screams of terror came from the fields and woods nearby. Petroc sent word to find out what or who was disturbing his prayers. It was not long before he received an answer.

The people of Bodmin told the tale of an evil man who kept a pit of snakes to terrorize all living nearby. Criminals, and anyone who disobeyed the evil man, were punished by being thrown into the pit. Not long ago, the evil man had died and his son thought the pit a disgusting means of punishment. The son left the snakes in the pit to starve. They fought and ate one another until only the three strongest remained. These three snakes fought a great battle until only one snake was left alive. The last snake lay huge and swollen on at the bottom of the pit. Its body no longer wriggled as a snake, it writhed and roared as a monstrous dragon.

The monstrous dragon climbed out of the snake pit and ate everything; it ate all the cattle in farm next door, it ate the farmer and the farmer’s dog. The monstrous dragon travelled all around Bodmin terrifying everyone and the people were most surprised Petroc hadn’t been eaten.

“I have been deep in prayer,” said Saint Petroc. “I must ask my friends Samson and Abbot Wethnoc to accompany me, and we shall create together a shield of absolution and hope to defeat the dragon.”

The dragon stood eating, blocking the track. Petroc, Samson and Wethnoc walked toward the monstrous dragon. It stopped eating but, not wanting to leave its food, the beast hesitated. In an instant Petroc threw forward a heavenly shield. The saint took out a fresh handkerchief and walked toward the dragon’s ghastly jaws, he wrapped the handkerchief round the jaws hiding the worst and hoping to curb the peoples’ terror and he lead the dragon away to the sea. Samson and Wethnoc followed, praying with all their being Saint Petroc could keep the dragon tame.

On the way to the sea, Saint Petroc and the dragon were met by a party of mourners. The group of men were exhausted and weak, between them they carried a the body of a young man. On seeing the Monstrous Dragon, the men all lay down in terror. Petroc stopped walking and stood quietly, the dragon followed his lead. Through prayers Petroc renewed the strength of the group of men. The dead young man sat up, his life restored. The men celebrated by dancing and singing songs, they didn’t notice Saint Petroc and the dragon slip away to the sea. There he asked the dragon to promise never to harm human or animal again. The dragon prostrated itself before Saint Petroc in agreement and swam off to live deep under the sea and was never seen in Bodmin again.

Retold by Anna Chorlton

  • Bodmin