Stories of the Saints - Grace Hall

St Corentin's Fish

St Giles was fed daily by a hind, who shared with him the solitude of the forest, so St Corentin was kept from hunger by a fish.

St Corentin was first Bishop of Quimper in Brittany, and lived in a hermit's cell at the top of the mountain of Saint-Come. Near by bubbled a spring which had for its lone inhabitant a fish. How Corentin first discovered the little fish's disposition, as well as his ability to provide him with a daily meal is not told. We are only assured that every day Corentin went to the basin into which the spring flowed, put his hand into the water, drew out of it the fish, sliced from him a cutlet sufficient for his day's food, and then placed him back in the water.

As his performance continued for years, the truth is not to be doubted that the fish was daily healed of his wound, and his flesh entirely restored.

One day the King came hunting in the vicinity, as was the wont of kings, and, as also seems to have been their habit, he with a single retainer was either lost—or else he strayed or stole away from the rest of his party. On this occasion, the retainer happened to be the King's cook. When both King and cook arrived at Corentin's cell they were hungry, and the hermit was obliged to cut an unusually large slice of his fish to feed his two guests.

Even so King Gallo's cook sneered at sight of the slender portion, but he fried it—and as he fried, it increased and increased until it filled the pan, and proved more than sufficient for all three—King, cook, and Saint.

When the rest of the party, after long search for their King, arrived on the spot and were told of the miraculous animal, they trooped to the basin to have a look at him. There he was, frolicking in the water, with not even a scar where he had so lately been wounded. The retinue were greatly interested, and one, bolder than the rest, taking out his hunting knife, and performing the operation which had been described to him, carved a substantial piece out of the back of the fish. All were aghast at what then happened, for the fish, far from taking the performance as a matter of course, wriggled feebly back into the water, lay on his side gasping, and looked as if he were about to die.

Corentin was hastily summoned, and when he arrived quickly uttered a prayer, healed his friend, and bade him depart from the basin before any other heedless knave attracted by rumours of the miracle should make further experiments upon him.

But Corentin did not subsequently go hungry on this account, for King Gallo, impressed by the occurrence, made him a gift of all the rich forest of Plou-Vaudiern and the hunting-lodge standing in it, which the Saint enjoyed for the rest of his days.