St Armel

Abbot. One of the patron saints of hospitals, Saint Armel was invoked to cure headaches, fever, colic, gout and rheumatism. He was born in South Wales in the 6th century and was the cousin of St Samson and St Cadfan. After becoming a monk, he emigrated with many kinsmen to Brittany where he founded

two monasteries: Plouarmel and Ploermel.

The earliest records of a cult around him are 12th century. There is a statue of him in Westminster Abbey which was placed there by Henry VII. The king believed he survived a shipwreck off the coast of Brittany through the intercession of the saint. There is also one on Cardinal Morton's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. Other examples survive in the painted reredos of Romsey Abbey, alabasters at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and in St Mary Brookfield church in London.

St Armel is generally depicted in armour and chasuble, leading a dragon with a stole round its neck. This recalls the legend that he took a dragon to Mont-Saint- Armel and persuaded it to dive into the river below.

In Ploermel church in France, there are several fine 16th century stained glass windows depicting scenes from his life.