Lives of the British Saints – Saint Budoc, Monk, Martyr

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Bieuzy of Brittany, date unknown, artist unknown; Notre-Dame et Saint-Bieuzy de Bieuz, France; photographed on 3 August 2013 by GO69; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsWhether Budoc, the friend and disciple of Gildas, be the Boda, with the suffix oc, met with in the Welsh Lists of Saints, we have no means of knowing.

The material for the Life of Budoc is not of good quality. During the War of the League, the church of Beuzy was plundered, and the Life supplied to Albert le Grand is taken from such fragmentary documents as remained there, and in the possession of the seigneur of Rymaison. According to this Life, Budoc was a native of Britain, almost certainly of Wales, who accompanied Gildas when he settled at Ruys.

By the side of the Blavet a mass of granite rock projects, leaving only a narrow space of turf between it and the river. This is below the finger of hill round which sweeps the Blavet, and which served as a Roman station, the Gallo-Roman city of Sulim.

Gildas and Budoc founded a monastery at the neck of this promontory, and it was called Castanec. But, that they might be alone for prayer and meditation, they were wont to retire under this overhanging rock. A little spring oozes out at its base. Here the two friends spent much time in devotion. When the half Christianized, half pagan inhabitants pursued them to this retreat, one or other mounted a node of rock between their cell and the gliding stream, and preached to them thence.

According to the legend, on one occasion they came in such crowds, and were so impatient to hear the Word of God, that Gildas preached for long, though thirsty, fevered and weary. At last, unable to continue, he fled to his cell under the rock, and as the people clamoured after him, the rock split, and through the cleft he was able to scramble to the summit and so escape them. The crack is a natural fault, and the story has been invented to explain it.

The two Saints built a wall to enclose their retreat, with only one opening through which to crawl, and which admitted light. For the summons to prayer, in place of a bell, they provided themselves with’ two thin slabs of diorite, which, when struck with a pebble, emitted a bell-like note.

When Gildas was constrained to leave Castanec, and return to his main foundation at Ruys, he left the little monastery under the charge of his friend.

By some chance Budoc was credited with a power of driving away madness in man and beast.

One day, when he was about to proceed to celebrate the Holy Mysteries, a chief in the neighbourhood sent to bid him come at once to him, as his dogs were ill, he feared with hydrophobia. Budoc told the messenger that he could not attend to the dogs till he had ministered to men, and that he must first celebrate the Eucharist.

The man returned to his master, and exaggerated what Budoc had said, and coloured it after his own perverse mind, into an insolent refusal. The chieftain was furious, and hastening to the church, dealt the unhappy Budoc a severe blow on the head.

With his head bleeding, the excited, hurt, and indignant monk rushed off to lay the case before his master, Gildas—the chief had not only committed sacrilege, but had violated sanctuary. A number of people attended him. He hastened down the river, then cut across the spur of hill covered with the forest of Camors, passed the caer of Conmore, regent of Domnonia, and a power to be considered even in Broweroc. Conmore, who at that period was on excellent terms with Gildas, was not there at the time, or Budoc would have made his complaint to him. He passed on, and night fell as he reached the Irish colony of Plouvigner. There he halted, and the people who had attended him lit their fires and camped out for the night.

Next day the wounded monk pushed on, and, reaching the sea at Baden, there took boat. Lusty arms sent the little vessel flying over the still waters of the Morbihan. When it reached the peninsula of Sarzeau Budoc had become so weak and exhausted that he could hardly stagger forward.

Messengers ran ahead and told Gildas that Budoc was coming, and what had taken place. At the time he was chanting vespers. At once he proceeded in procession from the church, at the head of his monks, to receive the wounded man. When they met Budoc, they saw that he must die. He was conveyed into the church, and there he breathed his last. Had he gone quietly to bed, and had his head been attended to at once, instead of his posting off on a long journey, he might have recovered.

Legend has embellished a very simple tale, and represents him as having had an axe or a knife cleave his skull, and as having gone two days’ journey wearing the weapon in his wound. But this is a common extravagance in hagiographic fiction.

Albert le Grand gives as his day November 24. But he has been the occasion of a strange confusion. His name, softened in Breton to Bieuzy, has been Latinized into Bilicus. Now there was a Bill, Bishop of Vannes in 725, probably the same who composed the Life of Saint Malo; but he died quietly in his bed. However, in the Missal of Vannes of 1530, and the Proper of Vannes 1660, he is entered on June 23 as Bili, Ep. M., of Vannes.

In the churchyard of Beuzy is a portion of Budoc’s stone bell. The church itself is interesting, late Flamboyant, and possesses some fine old stained glass. In the church are statues of Saint Gildas, Saint Bieuzy, and Saint Helen; also a modern window representing the legend of the Saint. Saint Bieuzy is invoked against madness and hydrophobia.

– from Lives of the British Saints, v1, by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1907