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Approx. 550's A.D. - A Petrock Plays With A Dinosaur (Maybe!)

  There was a Welshman named Petrock born in today's Glamorgan, which is one of the 13 counties of ancient Wales and one of its southern-most counties. He was the 4th son of 9 some records say, in the Royal Welsh family of King Glywys.

  Petrock truly seems to have walked in the grace of God, extolling the name of Jesus among men so successfully that there are still a number of towns in England, and almost 30 parishes which derive their name in some manner or another from his own, now in our time some 1400 years later. In ancient Dumnonia, which covered portions of the Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Dorset areas of Great Britain, he was especially active.

  Men of God, for better or worse were often given the title of 'Patron Saint of ...' this or that. He's known as the patron saint of Tin, which the Cornish region was famous for mining. Some say that even the man named Joseph of Arimethea, spoken of in the New Testament, had holdings here, 5 centuries before Petrock. "Joseph was a tin man..." an old Cornish song there says.

  He was named Petrock by his parents because of the event in the Gospels where Jesus tells Peter that he is the rock upon which He, Jesus, will build his church.  The name is a combination of Peter and Rock. 

  The writings say he was cheerful, direct, happy to give, and of good courage. One source said 'simple minded', but I believe it was meant to convey the idea of being 'without guile', because he was well educated by the middle years of his life. He seems to have been liked and trusted. He lived to be a pretty old man, at least into his eighties one would infer.  Not bad for those times. 

  Being the 4th son, it was money and not power that he was to inherit. But he refused it and talked his retainers into following him across the sea in a boat to Ireland to learn the holy life and the Christian way as it was then practiced in Ireland.

  Ireland was the acknowledged leader in European Christian education for many of the first centuries after Jesus. It was widely known for the impressive knowledge of the monks that it produced. There are even recorded instances of Kings or other nobles in mainland Europe finding out that an Irish monk was wandering nearby, nearing their land, and the noble would react by going out to meet him, and offering to build the man a school somewhere there in his kingdom, and keep the monk in style if he would only stay and teach in the school.

  Many monks accepted such offers, and it worked out well for all. It was becoming quite desireable politically to be an educated and Christian Kingdom in Europe, and nobles desired that for themselves. And the Irish monks were able to easily start Christian schools in which great numbers of local, formerly pagan people were versed in Jesus's teachings. Europe was starved for such well qualified Christian teachers at various places in various times. So supporting an Irish monk in your kingdom was quite a feather in the cap, especially as the Catholic church grew in power. Many of these nobles became earnest believers in Jesus themselves, though they and their times were violent and warlike.

  So for about twenty years Petrock and various of his group educated themselves to the highest degree possible in Ireland. He taught there some as well. Ireland's famous Saint Kevin is said to have learned from him, for instance. Twenty years!! But it was their goal to leave Ireland as qualified as possible.

  Petrock finally told his companions that it was time to go and minister in groups, and they mostly chose the west of Britain. He went to the Irish coast, and they found their original boat, it is said, now 20 years older but in good repair. They put to sea, and though not noted to be great sailors, God guided them well to the very spot that God seems to have prepared. As is recorded to have occurred several times in the lives of different saints over the centuries, the traditions say that a special wind drove the boat to the place God wanted it, as the monks were not skilled in sailing.

  They landed in Britain just above Petrockstow (Lafenac) by the river Haile, according to history. Trebetherick is there also.

  A man named Samson lived there and saw them arrive in their small wicker and leather boat. He too was a Christian and quite known in the area as a pious man. He was said to be surprised at the high speed with which the wind drove the boat as it approached the shore. It was apparently moved through the water in a way that was enough out of the ordinary to catch his attention, though he lived there and presumably would have seen many watercraft there over his days.

  There was a prophecy spoken of in Samson's area at that time which was expected to soon come about, but which was as yet unfulfilled. It held that an unknown man was expected from Ireland - a man who would be great in the service of Jesus, and powerful in signs. I did not find where the prophesy had arisen.

  Upon landing, God allowed Petrock to make quite an impression, and almost immediately. When he debarked the boat with his three friends he first saw farm workers reaping in the hot grain fields. He went up and asked them what religion they were, but they had some fun with him, and instead answered that it would be nice if he would cause a pleasant stream of water to flow for them, as they were parched from the heat.

  It is recounted that Petrock obliged them, to their utter surprise, and touched a nearby cliff with a staff he carried. Fresh water began to flow, which awed the workers. They then answered all of his questions quite respectfully.

  Petrock asked them if any Christian religious persons lived near. They pointed at Samson, who just then stood visible, though far away. Seeing the distant figure, Petrock prayed that Samson would not turn and leave until Petrock and his friends had reached him and had a chance to speak with the man. But all Samson knew was that as the strangers turned and began to walk towards him, his limbs turned as immobile as stone until they were near. Then he regained their use, and of course realized that God had sent someone peculiar to their shores.

  After greeting and speaking in a friendly manner, Samson pointed out the dwelling of the Bishop of Wethmoc, whom Patrock and his company went to see. They were received well by the Bishop, and fed there. Petrock believed that this building was the place he should stay, and the bishop quickly assented - he too knew of the prophesy about the visitors from Ireland, and he believed the very man in front of him was the one that the Lord had sent. And that is where they stayed for a time - at the place then apparently called Lodenic-Lafenac.

  For about twenty years then Petrock worked in the ministry in this area, building up the Christian culture, and there are writings which say that he often had great signs from the Holy Spirit to attend his work, though what they were seems lost. (Many of the Cornish writings were destroyed during the church burnings which occurred during the Protestant Reformation.)

  At about this time, when he seemingly was a pretty old man if the records are right, he went on a pilgrimage to Rome to see the Holy sites. As he returned, he sinned what he felt was a great personal sin. He made a prediction about the weather they were passing through, as if it was a prophetic word. It did not come to pass as he said, and he realized that he had spoken presumptuously and in his own self assurance, rather than from the urging of God. He had acted the part of a false prophet.

  Racked with guilt, he returned to Rome. And then, he went on a long journey alone. He travelled so far that he eventually reached Jerusalem, and then travelled beyond that even.

  He found himself on the shores of somewhere then called India - a land of borders likely quite different than today's India but likely approximate to the area - and is said to have had the holy experience of being met by an otherworldly boat, one that shone like light. And an angel had him board, and it took him to an offshore island on which there were believers like himself. For seven years he is said to have stayed there with those people before receiving word from God to return to Britain. The boat of light again appeared to convey him back to the mainland shore.

  (This will sound like a myth to some, but we do have a God for whom nothing is impossible. So, if it is true that this man Petrock felt so personally disappointed in himself for falsely predicting the weather, then I certainly do not believe that a man so sensitive to falsehood regarding matters concerning God would invent stories about holy experiences and spread them around. That's an if/then statement that supposes that the false weather prediction, apparently supported by his fellow travelers to Rome, truly occurred.  And also that the account of his experiences in India originated from him.  I personally can believe, but some inaccuracy in ancient reports is possible, just as in today's modern news reports)

  On shore, God provided a wolf to him as a travel companion for the trip back the accounts say. That he had a wolf from somewhere with him when he came back seems pretty well agreed upon in the old accounts.  His name is often associated with the wolf he had as a pet.  Some religious pictures of him from churches, etc., also depict the wolf.

  It was when he had returned to Britain and his students received him back that another strange account originated. There was a somewhat cruel king named Teudur nearby who had a swampy pond area which he kept. It must have been surrounded by some sort of fence or wall, because inside of it he placed various sorts of reptiles and 'worms' and snakes which he had his people catch and bring from the surrounding areas of his kingdom and perhaps others.  When he meant to make an example out of an enemy he would have them thrown into the swampy pond to be attacked, killed, and devoured. And so these dangerous creatures were kept captive and fed for this reason during Teudur's life.

*****(It takes only a short time of studying the history of ancient Great Britain to discover that a variety of creatures once lived there which no longer do today. The accounts of men having to kill dragons are very numerous in many older writings. King Coel's tomb (4th or 5th century A.D.) excavated in the early 20th century reportedly had clay figurines of several types of animal now extinct as well as well depicted animals still living today.  He apparently enjoyed hunting when alive.  The figurines still exist. They show a giant type of extinct wild boar and a type of short flat-trunked elephant. Remember, they would have been just animals back in the day - just animals that happened to live in Great Britain. The idea of Britain being the home of larger 'prehistoric' type reptiles in relatively recent times would not surprise me at all, based on British historical literature.  Go to http://www.s8int.com and click on their "Dinosaurs in .....(I think it's '...literature art and history')"  section.  There are around 90 or more pages of depictions of dinosaurs and possible dinosaurs from relatively recent times, from around the world.  After all, if the Earth isn't old, dinosaurs certainly aren't either, and that I believe is why they are not uncommonly mentioned in older texts, under different names, and found in ancient art and as artifacts such as figurines. 

  As for the Bible, check out the Book of Daniel, which refers to events in the 6th century B.C. for the most part (and I refer to the fuller book of Daniel, such as Catholic Bibles have) and also the book of Job (I believe referring to the 19th century BC) Both have descriptions of creatures which must have been dinosaurs.  And there is a strange reference here and there to the early Israelites taking over the land gradually so that the wild animals will not become too numerous for them to deal with (if the land were left suddenly empty of it's former inhabitants).  So you have to ask: what kinds of animals lived there that were an actual threat to the survival of well armed and battle hardened humans?***    

But back to the nearer past of Petrock's day...when this king named Teudur died, his son abandoned the pond's use, not wishing to continue his father's practice. And so, in a declining dining sort of situation, it came to be that there was only one creature alive in the pond, the acccounts say; it was some type of large and terrible appearing reptile creature.

The new king then then decided to engage in a war against a neighboring region, and he had his men bring out this creature, and train it to move along with the army to frighten his opponents as they moved forward.

Petrock and two of his companion monks, Wetrock (I'm not joking) and Samson, were asked to help oppose this king and his fearsome creature, and it is recorded that they approached the beast and prayed against it in the name of Jesus, whereupon it became docile and acted somewhat fearful. When the king and his army abandoned the creature and fled, Petrock tied a long strip of cloth to it, and led it to the river to release it.

As if that were not enough of a miracle for one day, upon the way to releasing the creature they encountered a group of 300 mourners in the funeral procession of a young man named Ephebus.  The were at first terrified at the beast, then amazed when the three monks, moved by the Spirit, prayed for Ephebus and he revived.  This qualifies as a most amazing day in British Christendom, I'd have to say.

(This is another case of a fanciful sounding incident, but it is by no means without parallel. Animals obey God.  For instance:  Jonah was swallowed by a great fish which later vomited him out on shore at God's bidding.

St Francis was believed to have reasoned with a wolf that was preying upon people in a certain village.

St Columba was said to have used prayer to terrify a large monster which lived in Loch Ness.

Ravens fed Elijah in the wilderness.

The animals came to Noah and entered his ark willingly.

The Book of Daniel in a Catholic Bible contains some writing missing in a Protestant Bible. One incident mentioned was that the King of Babylon showed Daniel the captive Hebrew prophet a large beast - a dragon of sorts - and told Daniel that he had to admit that this was worthy of being worshipped as a god. Daniel said 'not so' and offered to prove that it was only a beast. The King of Babylon allowed it, so Daniel made a patty of food for the beast composed of hair, fat, and pitch. When the creature ate it, it afterwards ruptured open and died.

  And this list could be much longer. 

  Maybe one day I will add to this list. But the point is, all creatures are completely subject to the power of Jesus and the Father, and could no more disobey His will than we could if He withdrew the allowance of free will from us and commanded that we behave any certain particular way.)

So, this is a brief look at the amazing life of St Petrock, a tool of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  He died very old for his times, on June 4th 564 A.D., by report.  He is called the greatest of the Cornish saints, and if these accounts are true, it is truly small wonder.  But, a Saint is never but a servant  in the hand of the God he serves, only a servant.  And servants of God and Jesus in the Bible always insist that they not be worshiped.  It is God and Jesus that men are to worship, and even Jesus worshipped His Father. 

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website