Saint Malo (also known as Maclou or Mac'h Low, in Latin, as Maclovius or Machutus, born c. 27 March 520 died 15 November 621) was the mid-6th century founder of Saint-Malo in Brittany, France. He is one of the seven founder saints of Brittany.
Details of Malo's career are preserved in three medieval 'Lives' which seem to include incidents associated with several different people of similar names. Despite this confusion, it appears that Malo was born about the year 520, probably in Wales.
His name may derive from the Old Breton machlou, a compound of mach "warrant, hostage" and lou (or loh) "brilliant, bright, beautiful".
Voyages with Saint Brendan
Malo is said to have been baptized by Saint Brendan and to have become his favourite disciple. However, serious doubt has been cast on the authenticity of this section of his life. He is said to have been one of those specially selected by that holy man for his oft-described voyage.
It was traditionally from Llancarfan Abbey that Saint Brendan and his disciple, Malo, with numerous companions set forth for the discovery of the "Island of the Blest". He then put to sea on a second voyage and visited the Island of Cézembre, in the seaward front of St Malo, where he tarried for some time. Supposedly, Maclovius was a dead giant, who Brendan revived with his holiness. Brendan than baptized him, before allowing him to return to being dead. It was supposedly on the occasion of his second voyage that he evangelized the Orkney Islands and the northern isles of Scotland. It is remarkable that Saint Brendan also laboured at Cézembre where he is said to have had a hermit's cell on a precipitous rock in the sea, whither he often retired. This may be the derivation of the association between the two men, although Baring-Gould suggested that, in this case, Brendan is a mistake for Branwaladr.
At Aleth, opposite St Malo, Malo placed himself under a venerable hermit named Aaron, on whose death in 544, he succeeded to the spiritual rule of the district subsequently known as St Malo, and was consecrated first Bishop of Aleth.
In old age the disorder of the island compelled saint Malo to leave, but the people soon begged the saint to come back. On his return matters were put right, and the saint, feeling that his end was at hand, determined to spend his last days in solitary penance. Accordingly he proceeded to Archambiac, a village in the diocese of Saintes, where he passed the remainder of his life in prayer and mortification. His death, reported in Archingeay (in the same diocese) is chronicled on 15 November, a Sunday, in the year 621 (although this may have been a different saint named Marcoult).
Due to its famous founder, the city of Saint-Malo is one of the seven stages in the Tro Breizh ("Tour of Brittany", in Breton), a pilgrimage celebrating the seven founding saints of Brittany.
Indirectly, the Spanish name of the Falkland Islands, Islas Malvinas, can be traced to Saint Malo, as it is derived from the French name, Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the port of Saint-Malo.
Pontoise Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Malo. Lesmahagow Priory in South Lanarkshire is also dedicated to him, in the Latin form of his name Machutus.
The place-name Saint-Maclou also refers to him.
- (English) St. Machutus (reference to Aaron)
- Sabine Baring-Gould. (1907). Lives of the British Saints.
- Blessed Julian Maunoir, "Apostle of Brittany"
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.