Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent
March 15, 2023

Today’s Lenten reflection focuses on Saint Nectan, a Welsh hermit, evangelist and martyr of Hartland from the late fifth century. The eldest of 24 children of Brychan, the saintly king of Powys in Wales, Nectan sailed from Wales with several relatives to establish a hermitage at Hartland Point along the coast in North Devon. Nectan was inspired to enter the monastic life after hearing about St. Anthony, a holy man and monk of the Egyptian desert who had lived at least a century before and who had an immense influence on the growth of early Christian monasticism. Nectan’s community of holy and faithful people had a strong and godly influence on the surrounding area in Devon. Nectan himself chose to live as a forest solitary, only meeting his fellow hermits on the last day of every year for Eucharist and a meal. He was killed by a cattle thief whom he sought to convert to Christ. The belief grew that the blood from his severed head imparted healing properties to the local spring. Legend states that Nectan owned a small silver bell, which he kept in a tall tower high above his forest cell, near a plunging waterfall. During the violent storms that sometimes ravaged this isolated spot, Saint Nectan would ring the bell and save seafaring ships that would otherwise have been smashed on the local rocks. Although he died a violent death, Saint Nectan was known as a man of peace. He is the patron saint of Hartland, and his symbol is the foxglove flower, which devout pilgrims still bring as offerings to the site of his hermitage today.


Holy God,
Who led your servant Nectan
To plant the faith of Christ in a hostile land
And to reach out to others in the victorious Spirit of Christ,
May the Tree of Life become our nesting place
In barren and violent places today.