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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

Johanna's Garden.

St. Levan road passed by a small enclosure in Rospeltha, called Johanna's Garden, (at least it retained that name a few years ago when the writer knew it well).

One Sunday morning the holy hermit, going down to cliff to get a fish for his dinner, in passing by this garden saw a woman called Johanna gathering pot-herbs. St. Levan rested the end of his rocking-rod on the ground, stopped, and gave her a kindly greeting. But she, looking over the hedge, exclaimed, "Oh sinful man that you are, for going a fishing of a Sunday! Whatever can ’e think will become of ’e?"

"Self-righteous hypocrite that thou art," answered the saint, in looking for other people's faults thou canst not behold

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thine own. Think not that thou—with thy fingers spread out and thy eyes turned up—art better than others, for a more strict or a more lazy observance of Sunday. And tell me," he continued, "sharp as thou art to mark others faults, and blind as thou art to thine own, wherefore should it be a sin for me to take my daily fish from the sea any more than for thee to gather herbs from thy garden?"

St. Levan said much more, but all in vain were his endeavours to bring the woman to reason, for, in spite of all he could say, she would still have the last word and contend that there was more sin in catching fish than in pi eking greens of a Sunday.

At last the good man being provoked by her obstinacy, pretended piety, and conceited clack, raised his hand and cursed her, saying, "From this time, for ever, thou shalt be known, if known at all, as the Foolish Johanna! And thy garden shall ever continue, as now, to bear more hemlock and nettles than leeks and lentils. Moreover," he continued, "mark this—To make thy remembrance the more accursed for all time to come, if any child by thy name be baptised in the waters of Parchapel Well it shall become a fool like thyself and bad luck follow it."

Down to very recent times, so great was the fear of old St. Levan's curse that anyone in this parish desirous of having a child named Johanna took it to Sennen to be christened.

It may be remarked that, until the roof fell into St. Levan's Well, and it became choked up, the sexton always kept it clean and fetched water thence for the baptismal office.

We don't know what state "Johanna's Garden" is now in, but some thirty years ago it always bore more weeds, than pot-herbs.

These simple traditions—thus handed down and kept alive by St. Levan people, who believed them to be literally true—mark a lingering veneration for the holy fisherman who, in this secluded place, led his tranquil life.

Next: The St. Levan Stone