Celtic GlorySpiritual

St Nonna's Well

St Nonna's Well, Altarnun by Caroline Lower

September 2023

St Nonna’s Chapel and Holy Well, Altarnun, Cornwall

As soon as we walked through the churchyard we felt a deep peace. The church is old and on the site of Nonna’s oratory and dwellings. There are no remains of these; but a large stone church has existed on the site since c15.

There were many signs and indications of the Celtic origins of this as a place of worship.

I was keen to get to the altar area.  On passing through the rood screen there are benches one could sit on to contemplate the simple altar. A few visitors wandered by, then finally all was still and even the dog sat quietly by my side. I closed my eyes and soaked in the atmosphere. After a while a deep and profound stillness with a strong sense of His presence came over me.

I also sensed the presence of Nonna in front of me, hands outstretched as in welcome and blessing.

The Well

We then walked uphill and down a gated track, across a field to her well. This has been lovingly maintained and is a beautiful quiet place to linger. We spoke prayers of blessing over the water. We also worshipped and sang.

I took off my shoes and stood in the cool clear water, thinking of Nonna’s ministry in this place, all those one and half millennia ago. We were deeply moved and profoundly grateful for the legacy and the anointing she left behind that we too can participate in.

Caroline Lower

Altarnun well and pool

Notes by Kathy Laity:  These mystical experiences whilst familiar to some of us are a bit alien to others. Just to reassure people, we are not 'communing with the dead' when encountering Christians from other centuries. My understanding is that in that moment we are outside of time. Even Jesus met with Elijah and Moses after they were dead as recorded in Matthew 17:3. They tend to occur during a time of worship or deep contemplative prayer focussed on Jesus. We are not seeking 'encounters' or 'experiences' but Jesus.

It's a real joy to include Caroline's experience at this beautiful site. I too experienced a very 'thin place' both in the church and at the well.