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Many place names in Cornwall are associated with Christian missionaries described as coming from Ireland and Wales in the 5th century AD and usually called saints (See List of Cornish saints).

The historicity of some of these missionaries is problematic The Saints' Way, a long-distance footpath, follows the probable route of early Christian travellers making their way from Ireland to the Continent.

Toleration was granted to the Christians of the Roman Empire in 313 and there was some growth in the church in Roman Britain in the following hundred years, mainly in urban centres.

There were no known cities (L castrum, OE caester, W caer, Br Ker ) west of Exeter so Cornwall may have remained pagan at least until the 5th century, the presumed period of the mythical Christian King of the Britons, Arthur Pendragon.

St Piran, after whom Perranporth is named, is generally regarded as the patron saint of Tinners and for some also of Cornwall.

(The cult of St Michael is found in Norman times and is seen in the naming of St Michael's Mount after the similarly named monastery in Normandy.) The title has also been claimed for Saint Petroc who was patron of the Cornish diocese prior to the Normans.

The situation in Cornwall may have been somewhat similar to Wales where each major religious house equated to a kevrang (cf. ends only after Egbert's conquest in the early 800s.

Welsh cantref), each under the control of a Bishop. Later records claim that he used his power to grant estates in Cornwall to the bishop of Sherborne, especially Pawton in St Breock and Lawhitton near Launceston.

Scilly has been identified as the place of exile of two heretical 4th-century bishops from Gaul, Instantius and Tiberianus, who were followers of Priscillian and were banished after the Council of Bordeaux in 384.

The Cornish saints are commemorated in legends, churches and placenames.

In contrast to Wales, which produced Bible translations into Welsh, the churches of Cornwall never produced a translation of the Bible in the Cornish language, which may have contributed to that language's demise.

The Methodism of John Wesley proved to be very popular with the working classes in Cornwall in the 19th century.

Methodist chapels became important social centres, with male voice choirs and other church-affiliated groups playing a central role in the social lives of working class Cornishmen.

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