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The Hermitage of St Helier

The Hermitage of St Helier

The Hermitage of St Helier is on Elizabeth Castle and can easily be accessed at low tide by walking or at high tide by using the amphibious ferries that go between Elizabeth castle and the town of St Helier

St Helier was the son of Sigobard and his wife Lutsgard who were pagans. Sigobard and Lutsgard lived in Belgium and were so desperate for children they asked Cunebert the Christian hermit to pray for them. Cunebert agreed to do this if when the child was born its life would be given over to God.

When the child was born Sigobard and Lutsgard decided not to give the child”s life over to God as promised and the child became ill. The distraught parents were forced to take their child the Cunebert who cured the child named him Helierus and brought him up as his own son.

As he grew up Helierus became famous for his miracles, this so angered his father Sigobard that two men were sent to kill Cunebert.

When Helierus discovered Cuneberts body he fled to Therouanne in northern France where he spent his time praying in the most uncomfortable circumstances he could create. It was at this time Helierus raised a child form the dead and was declared a saint by the locals.

Stone carving of the face of St Helier

To escape the admiration Helierus fled again this time to Nanteuil where he met St Marculf, St Marculf baptised him, trained him and sent Helierus to Jersey.

One of the first things St Helier did upon arriving to jersey was cure a cripple called Anquetil. Three years later during a visit by St Marculf and St Romard thirty pirate ships from the Orkneys arrived in Jersey. The three Saints prayed and the pirates fought amongst themselves and were all killed.

Years later more pirates arrived in Jersey and St Helier preached to them in an effort to turn them into Christians. The pirate cheif fearing that he might succeed cut off his head with an axe.

In the legend his body was put into a boat and the rising tide carried his body out to sea and all the way to Breville in Normandy, there is a church in breville Normandy which is to this day dedicated to St Helier and has a stone statue of him.

St Helier was a eremetic monk who felt the more uncomfortable his life became the closer he would get to god. This explains why he found a shallow cave cut off from the land such a good place to live.

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There are other circles who think St Helier was actually a ship wrecker and put out false lights to confuse ships and lure them onto rocks. In the days of raiders from the sea St Helier could have been killed for any reason.

St Marculf the man who sent St Helier to Jersey erected a monastery in his memory near his cave in St Aubins bay. The monastery did good work for several hundred years and had distinguished guests including Pretextatus the archbishop of Rouen who was exiled there for seven years.

Today the main commercial centre of Jersey is named after St Helier and with the many HELIER HOTELS and Restaurants catering to every taste and whim of their select clients you gave to ask yourself what a hermetic monk would have thought of that.

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