Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Sampson, Bishop and Confessor


He was a child of prayer, and was born about the year 496, of noble parentage, in that part of South Wales which is now called Glamorganshire, then in the country of the Demetes, upon the borders of the Wenetes, who inhabited the province called by the Britons Guent, now Monmouthshire. At seven years of age he was put under the care of Saint Iltutus, a very learned abbot in Glamorganshire, and having made great progress in learning and virtue, was ordained priest by Saint Dubritius, bishop of CaĆ«rleon. In 512 he passed into a neighbouring island, where he led an eremitical life, as did several others, under the direction of Saint Piro, a holy priest. By an order of Saints Dubritius and Iltutus he paid a visit to his aged father who lay dangerously ill. The saint restored him by his prayers to his health, and converted him and his whole numerous family, including his uncles, cousins, and brothers, whom he placed in several monasteries, but his father and an uncle of his own community of hermits. In 516 he made a voyage into Ireland, to animate himself to fervour by the example and instructions of many illustrious saints who flourished there, and after his return shut himself up in a cave in a wilderness. In 520 Saint Dubritius called him to a synod at CaĆ«rleon, and in it ordained him bishop without being fixed in any particular see. Saint Sampson continued his former austere manner of life, abstaining wholly from flesh, sometimes eating only once in two or three days, and often passing the whole night in prayer standing, though sometimes when he watched the night he took a little rest, leaning his head against a wall. To gain souls to God by the exercise of the ministry with which he saw himself intrusted, he passed over into Brittany in France, with his father and his cousin Saint Magloire, and was followed by Saint Maclou or Malo, another cousin. Saint Sampson there converted many idolaters, raised a dead man to life, and wrought many other miracles. He founded a great abbey, which he called Dole, and fixed there the episcopal see which was before subject to Quidalet, now Saint Malo’s. This see of Dole long enjoyed a metropolitical jurisdiction over all the bishops of Brittany. He subscribed to the second council of Paris, held in 557, in the manner following: “I Sampson, a sinner, bishop, have consented and subscribed.” He used to have a cross carried before him, as is the custom of archbishops at present. He died about the year 564. A considerable part of his relics was translated to Paris, with those of Saint Magloire and Saint Maclou, in the tenth century, for fear of the inroads of the Normans.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Sampson, Bishop and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 July 2014. Web. 8 May 2021. <>