Endelienta
Fostering The Arts & Spirituality In North Cornwall

Who Was St. Endelienta?

Born around AD470, St Endelienta (Cenheidlon in Welsh records) was one of the daughters of St Brychan, King of Brycheiniog. From South Wales, she crossed the Bristol Channel to join her siblings in converting the Cornish to Christianity. She probably began her mission on Lundy Island, where she founded a small chapel (later mistakenly rededicated to St Helen), before moving on to stay with her brother, St Nectan, at Hartland, near today’s Devon border. She finally settled at Trentinney, just south-west of St Endellion, but still used Lundy as a retreat for meditation. A chapel dedicated to her survived at Trentinney until the 16th century and it was in an adjoining hermitage that she lived a very austere life, with only a cow for company and its milk and the water from her two wells for sustenance. Her sister, St Dilic (whose church is at Landulph), settled nearby and the two would often meet along a certain path whose grass would ever afterwards grow greener than elsewhere.

St Endelienta’s cow (discreetly memorialised on the organ casing), was eventually killed by Lord Trentinney when it strayed onto his land. Word of this injustice soon reached the ears of Endelienta’s godfather, King Arthur, and he immediately sent his men to exact revenge from the territorial landowner. Trentinney was killed, but Endelienta was unhappy that a man should be murdered in her name and she brought him back to life.

Years later, sensing her approaching death, she told her friends to lay her corpse on a cart and that two unguided steers be left to haul her wherever they liked. St Endelienta died, martyred some say by Saxon pirates, on 29th April, somewhere in the mid-sixth century. The steers duly brought her body to rest amid a quagmire on the top of a nearby hill. There she was buried and a fine church built over her shrine, where the church of St Endellion now stands.

We asked the Cornish artist, June Hicks, to make a cow (which could equally be a steer) the starting point for the logo she drew for us. As her nurturer and companion during her life of retreat, Endelienta's cow seems the perfect symbol for the meeting of spirituality and creativity. A steer, meanwhile, could be said to stand for strength, patience and - given where her steers had the good taste to end her final journey - divine inspiration!