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ST MORRELL

St Morrell of Hallaton

Hallaton has the unique distinction of having the only chapel or church in Britain dedicated to St Morrell.

Who was he?

  • Born in AD.363 in Milan, the son of the Roman senator for Alpine Gaul.

  • He trained to become a priest under St Martin of Tours.

  • St Morrell of Angers

For many years he was a hermit at Chalonnes-sur-Loire, where he later founded a monastery. Then in AD.423 he was ordained bishop of the cathedral in Angers, capital of Anjou in north-west France. After his death in AD.453 a cult grew up around him and the cathedral was re-dedicated jointly to him and St Maurice. The Legend tells us that his greatest miracle was his resurrection of Renatus. Portrayed in the wonderful medieval wall paintings in the cathedral of Angers. The Roman catholic Popes encouraged the lords to found monasteries, priories, convents and chantries as a way of helping the donor’s passage through purgatory.

In about AD.1250 one of Hallaton’s lords from Anjou, created a Chantry Chapel on Stow Close dedicated to St Morrell the cult saint of Angers. This chapel is sited at Hare Pie Bank, possibly on top of a Roman temple and close to the great Hallaton Treasure site. Deep in the depths of The National Archive at Kew the story of Hallaton’s saint can be teased out. The Will of Rev. Francis Butler, 1532, left money for a surrogate to go “on Pyllgramage to our Lady of Wallssyngham, and ouer Lady of Oldwell, to Saunt Elyn off Langham, to Saunt Augusten of Bestow and to Saunt Mawrell of Hallaton.”In the late 13th century, Hallaton prospered as one of the main market towns in Leicestershire and had three great fairs and a horse fair.

By the late 14th century, Hallaton had become a thriving place of pilgrimage as well as a market town with no less than nine ale houses to serve the thirsty visitors. Stowe Well became St Morrell’s Well. Tentus path became Chapel Way.The parish church of St Michael & All Angels was enlarged and an external pulpit was built in order to preach to the masses. The great relics were displayed to the visiting pilgrims. The pilgrims came to pray to St Morrell in the hope that their passage through purgatory would be shortened or that their ailments would be cured. Some died and were buried in the graveyard surrounding the chapel. All would have made offerings and bought an ampullae of holy water or a souvenir pilgrim badge. The beautiful Pieta badge was found at the chapel.