THE AGE OF SAINTS.

The period between the Roman empire and Norman conquest is one of quite exceptional obscurity, with few surviving monuments to provide tangible links. The 5th and 6th centuries are often referred to as the "Age of Saints" and much has been written on the spread of Christianity under the influence of the so-called "Celtic Saints" - tireless missionaries journeying along all the western seaways between Brittany, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland to spread this message. Though there undoubtedly remains an element of reality in this picture, studies by modern historians have begun to sound a note of caution. Some, for example, argue that the diffusion and influence of Christianity in late Roman Britain were far more deeply rooted than had once been thought. As such, the foundations for a Welsh church had already been laid. We must be careful, too, about assuming that the element llan in Welsh place-names indicates the site of an early church. Llan probably began by signifying a burial enclosure, then a cemetery with a church, then the church itself, and now by any superimposed village or even a town - like Llandudno. In the end, all that is certain is that it implies a continuous Christian locality, probably going back many centuries.

The situation is no less obscure when we turn to famous monastic sites such as St David’s or St Illtud's important foundation at Llantwit Major. Archaeologists are hard pressed to provide even the slightest information on the nature of the buildings there. Those seeking a clearer indication of Christian activity are on firmer ground when considering the various inscribed tombstones and crosses collectively known as early Christian monuments. Over 400 are recorded from all parts of Wales, with dates ranging from the 5th to 11th centuries. Many have been moved from their original locations, but occasionally they stand in isolated, even in open ground. More often they can be seen in churchyards, or even built into the fabric of the church itself. Important local collections have been gathered at Margam and the parish church at Llantwit Major. The earliest examples are quite plain, and generally served as tombstones or grave-markers. Later monuments include the "Samson Cross" at Llantwit, and the fine pillar crosses at Carew and Nevern, which are far more elaborate. - (Cadw 1990).

CELTIC SAINTS.

(Extracted from Lives of British Saints by S. Baring-Gould and L. Fisher).

Introduction:

In Roman Britain there were probably bishops in the principal towns, as London, Lincoln, York and Caerleon, and the Church was organized in the same manner as in Gaul, each bishop having his see, loosely delimited. The Christianity that entered Britain was almost certainly through the soldiery and the Romano-Gallic merchants and settlers in the towns. It spread also into the country, but it is impossible to say to what extent the native British were converted. But when the Antonine Wall in the North was breached, and there was a rush made south by refugees to Wales, and when others came flying before the swords of the Saxons and Angles, the whole ecclesiastical framework went to pieces.

There were no more Sees. Bishops were among those who escaped into Wales or crossed the seas to Amorica and Spanish Gallicia, but they had no longer any territorial Jurisdiction. In the desolation and confusion of the times, this was inevitable.

As the Celtic Church in Wales began to recover from the shock, it gravitated about new centres, monastic institutions, of which the heads might or might not be bishops. It was so in Ireland after Patrick's time, where no such thing as a territorial organization was attempted till centuries later; there monasteries were attached to tribes and ministered to their religious requirements.

Bishops were retained by the abbots, but they had no jurisdiction, they were subject to abbot or abbess, and were retained for the purpose of conferring orders, and for that alone. It began in this way in Brittany, but there the close influence of the Gallo-French Church, and the insistence of the Frank kings, rapidly brought the Celtic Church there into line. Such a tribal organisation was in conformity with Celtic ideas, and followed that which existed in Pagan times. Then there had been the Secular Tribe with its chief at its head, and alongside of it what may be called the Ecclesiastical Tribe, composed of Bards and Druids. With the acceptance of Christianity, the saints simply occupied the shells left vacant by the Druids.

Among the Celts all authority was gathered into the hands of hereditary chiefs. Of these there were two kinds, the military chief and the ecclesiastical chief, each occupying separate lands; but the members of the ecclesiastical tribe were bound to render military service to the secular chief; and the ecclesiastical chief on his side was required to provide for the needs of the secular tribe by educating the young of both sexes, and by performing religious ceremonies. Every tenth child, tenth pig, calf, foal, went to the saint, and the tribe was thus recruited. In certain cases an even more liberal grant was made to the Church, as in Leinster, where, as the Colloquy of the Ancients, informs us "the province dedicated to the saint a third of their Children and a third of their wealth."

There was an economic reason which compelled the Celts to establish great congregations of celibates. Neither in Ireland nor in Wales was the land sufficiently fertile, and the cultivable land sufficiently extensive to maintain the growing population. The only alternatives to compulsory celibacy were war and migration. And we must remember that multitudes of refugees were pressing into Wales from the North and East, far more than the mountainous land could sustain.

A story is told in "Annals of the four Masters" (O'Donavan, 1851) that show how serious the problem was even with the aid of the compulsory celibacy of the monasteries. In 657 the population in Ireland had so increased, that the arable land proved insufficient; accordingly an assembly of clergy and laity was summoned by Diarmidh and Blaithmac, Kings of Ireland, to take counsel. It was decided that the amount of land held by any one person should be restricted from the usual allowance of nine ridges of plough land, nine of bog, nine of pasture, and nine of forest; and further the elders of the assembly directed that prayers should be offered to the Almighty to send a pestilence "to reduce the number of the lower class, that the rest might live in comfort." St. Fechin of Fore, on being consulted, approved of this extraordinary petition, and the prayer was answered by the sending of the Yellow Plague; but the vengeance of God caused the pestilence to fall on the nobles and clergy, of whom multitudes, including the Kings and Fechin of Fore himself, were carried off.

The duties of the saint were to instruct the young of the tribe, to provide for the religious services required, and to curse the enemies of the Secular Tribe. The institution of schools for the young was certainly much older than Christianity in Britain and Ireland. We know from classical authorities, as well as from Irish writers of the heroic legends, that the Druids formed communities, that these were presided over by an Arch-Druid, that in them were educated the sons of the kings and nobles, and that the heads of these schools had lands for their support. By no other way can we explain the marvellous expansion of the educational establishments which took place after Ireland became Christian, than on the supposition that the saints entered in upon an institution already existing, and brought into it a new life.

St. Kentigern at Llanelwy had 965 monks. At Bangor Iscoed, according to Bede, there were seven choirs, numbering 300 in each. St. Cuana had 1746 scholars under him.

Some of these great schools or monasteries contained females as well as males. St. Brigid at

Kildare ruled such a double house of monks as well as nuns. As many of the pupils tarried on to prepare for an ecclesiastical life, these young people were thrown together a good deal, and the results were not always satisfactory. Accordingly one or other of the saints induced a sister or a mother to establish a girl's school, subject to his supervision, yet at a distance from the college of youths, sufficient to prevent the recurrence of scandal.

The people went to the monastery to receive communion, especially at Easter. The churches were small, usually of wattle and daub, and could not hold large congregations, so crosses were erected in various places where a saint would preach and probably also administer the sacrament.

In Wales, as in Ireland, the law could be ascertained, and the amount of fine decreed, but the

aggrieved was left to his own devices to obtain the redress. The court did nothing to enforce its judgements. A man who could not use force of arms was left with two courses: either he might get a saint to curse the debtor, or else, he might take the matter into his own hands by "fasting against" the offender. The process was this. He made formal demand for what was due to him. If this were refused, he seated himself at the door of the debtor and abstained from food and drink. The debtor could resist by fasting also.

Many Celtic saints used fasting as a weapon and everything conduced to engage the first missionaries in a contest of ascetic emulation with the medicine men of Paganism. They strove to outstrip them, for if they fell short of the extremes practised by the latter, they could not hope to gain the ear of the princes and impress the common people. It is said of St. Kevin for example, that he remained seven years without sleep, and that he held up one arm till it became rigid. St. Erc is said to have spent the day immersed in a river. St. Ita to have had only earth for her bed.

Despite all the foregoing, it is important not to forget that these old Celtic saints had also the holiness or sanctity that goes with their title. The fifth and sixth centuries mark the age of

Saints of the Celtic Church.

The saints of Wales belong to eight great families:

1. That of Maxen Wledig, or Maximus, 338-383. He is held to have married a daughter of Eudaf, a petty prince in Arfon, and Aurelius Ambrosius probably claimed descent from Maximus. From the same stock came Rhydderch Hael, King of Strathclyde/Cumbria; also Ynyr Gwent, Prince of Gwent, who lived at Caerwent. This family would seem to have represented Romano-British civilisation.

2. That of Cunedda, which came from the North, from the defence of the Wall. This family is said to have expelled the Irish Goidels from Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Mon (Anglesey). The royal line of Gwynedd came from this family; it only came to an end with the last Llewelyn. This is one of the three saintly families or tribes of Wales, and from it came Saints Dewi and Teilo.

3. That of Cadell Deyrnllwg who became prince of Powys in the fifth century. This family produced several saints, including Tyssilio of Meifod, Pedrog and Catwg.

4. That of Brychan, king of Brycheinog. This was an Irish family which came to be regarded as one of the three holy families of Wales; it produced an incredible number of Saints who are found not only in their native district, but also in North-east and East Cornwall.

5. That of Caw in North Britain, the third saintly family. Caw, however, was son of Geraint ab

Erbin, prince of Dumnonia. Owing to the inroads of the Picts, the family of Caw were obliged to flee to Gwynedd where they were well received by Cadwallon Lawhir, and Maelgwn, his son, who gave them lands, mainly in Anglesey, apparently with the proviso that they should enter religion, so as not to form any small principalities which might be politically damaging to the interests of the crown of Gwynedd. To this family belonged Gildas, the famous abbot of Ruys.

6, That of Coel Godebog. According to Skene, he was king in North Britain, and his name is

preserved in Kyle. He was ancestor of an important family which includes Urien Rheged, Llwydarch Hen, and Saints Pabo, Dunawd, and Deiniol of Bangor.

7. That of Csytennin Gorneu, a family derived from a usurper of the Roman purple, Constantine the Tyrant. This family would seem to have provided Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) with its princes, who were called either Constantine or Geraint. St Cybi came from this family; the notorious Constantine himself was eventually converted. The family of Caw (5, above) is descended from this stock.

8. That of Emyr Llydaw from Armorica. All that is know about Emyr is that, on account of an

usurpation of one of his sons, the others had to flee to South Wales where they were received by Meurig, king of Morganwg, who gave to several of them his daughters in marriage. The Bretons claim that the eldest son, who sent the family flying was Llywel or Hoel "the Great." From Emyr proceeded such great men as Sts. Samson and Padarn, and, by a daughter, Saints Cadfan and Winwaloe.

Although the most obvious features, which distinguished the Celtic Church from the Roman, were the shape of the monk's tonsure and the method of calculating the date of Easter, there must also have been differences associated with tribalism and the way in which Christianity had replaced the Druidic Tradition. A consequence of tribalism in the Celtic lands was that the position of Abbot became hereditary, and a candidate had to prove his pedigree before having any chance of the position, a situation which gave rise to complaints of injustice centuries later. The pedigrees and dates given in this work should be taken only as tentative, mistakes can be made in the early Christian period by taking a spiritual father as a temporal one, which also affects the chronology.

There are reasons for thinking that the religious revival in post-Roman Wales is not so much derived from the original Romano-British Christianity, as from new monastic ideas coming from abroad, by sea. The age of saints saw the Celtic church in Wales sending a stream of missionaries to Ireland to complete the conversion begun by Patrick, himself a child of somewhere in the west of Britain. It was from Ireland that Columba went to Iona, to become the evangelist of the Picts. From Llanelwy went forth Kentigern with 665 monks and clerics to restore Christianity in Strathc1yde/Cumbria, from the Clyde to the Dee.

It was from Iona that Northumbria received its Christianity; also Mercia, the East Saxons and

Angles. To them also was due the conversion of  much of Armorican Brittany, and some of the  Welsh saints, on route for Armorica, established foundations in Cornwall; St. Austell, for example.

St. Augustine of Canterbury was not, therefore, the main source from whom Christianity sprang in Britain. He was the Apostle of Kent; but Kent is only one corner of the island of Britain; it has so often been forgotten how much was wrought by the Celtic Church, even for the Teutonic invaders, far more than was achieved by Augustine.

The Celtic Saints.

They belonged to the second order of saints who, with David in the forefront, introduced the new school of monastic asceticism that had seen its origin in the Middle East before spreading via Gaul to western Britain. The life was one of rigorous discipline and has been described by Rhygyfarth in his Life of David. The monks went barefoot and wore rough clothes fashioned from animal skins. They ate only one simple meal a day – meat was forbidden and drank only water. They were allowed no possessions, everything being owned in common, and they undertook daily manual labour in the fields without the aid of oxen for the plough. They spent many hours daily in prayer and penance. - (Pembrokeshire Churches - Michael Fitzgerald).

St Aidan:

Also known as Madoc; of Irish birth and a pupil of St David. Renowned for his obedience. Reputed to have discovered a ford at Llawhaden and founded a Church and probably a monastery there. Later became first Bishop of Ferns in County Wexford.

ST ANTONY- [ANGLE]

St. Antony:  (251?-356). Founder of Christian monasticism. Born near Memphis in Egypt – giving away his possessions he went to live as a hermit in the desert circa 285. He attracted a number of disciples and in circa 305 he organized them in to a community of hermits. He retired again into solitude, and lived until the age of 105.  He was an influential person and in association with St Athanasuis he gave his support to the orthodox side in the Arian controversy.

St. Brynach:

Brynach Wyddel, or "the Irishman," was married to Corth or Cymorth, one of the daughters of Brychan. He was a priest, and spiritual instructor to the king and his family. Not only was he priest, but also abbot.

A Latin life of him, of the twelfth century, seems to have been based on Welsh ballads. For a while he was in Armorica, and when he desired to come to Wales he put a stone on the water and mounted it, and was wafted over to Milford Haven. There the daughter of the prince became enamoured of him, but as he resisted her advances, she sent men to murder him, and one stabbed him with a lance. Thereupon a swarm of winged ants fell upon the man, and so stung him that he suffered greatly, and died. The saint then bathed his wound in a spring, ever after called Ffynnon Goch or the Red Well.

Eventually he went to the river Caman in Pembrokeshire, where an angel had informed him that a site for a monastery would be pointed out to him by a wild white boar and her litter.  Here he lit a fire, and this was regarded as the assertion of a right to the place. The lord of the district seeing the smoke came hastily to know who had dared to light a fire; but he was a good man and he gave land to St. Brynach and committed his sons to him for their education. The saint now built a church at the foot of Carn Ingli, above Nevern. There is a story that St. David visited Brynach while on his way to Brevi, and that Brynach obtained a gift of a stone cross from him. The church at Nevern has a very fine ornamented Celtic cross, but of a later date than St. Brynach.

St. Clydai:

Clydai the Virgin was one of the 36 children of Brychan the Irish King and patron of Brynach.

St. Colman:

Cilman of Dromore – nephew to a bishop – pupil of Ailbe.

Founded a monastery at Dromore, County Down and consecrated Bishop by Pope Gregory.

Legend that he is buried near the gate post with an Irish style ring cross in the Churchyard at Capel Colman.

ST DANIEL'S [PEMBROKE]

St. Deinol:

Reputed to have cured a women from Carew who had taken poison and drank from his well near the church at Penally.

St. Deiniol, Abbot, Bishop.

Deiniol or Daniel was the son of Abbot Dunawd Fwr, son of Pabo Post Prydyn. He is often called Deiniol Wyri, the Blessed. He was the brother of Sts. Cynwyl and Gwarthan, and the father of St. Deiniolen. His grandmother was Dwywai, daughter of Lleenog.

Pabo and his family, having lost their territories in North Britain, retired to Wales, where they

were well received by Cyngen, king of Powys, who granted them lands, and whose son and successor Brorhwel married Arddun, Pabo's daughter.

His son Dunawd, embracing the religious life founded the monastery of Bangor in Maelor other-wise Bangor Iscoed, on the Dee, with the assistance of Cyngen, and later of Brorhwel, who generously provided for it. It seems likely that Dunawd's three sons helped him in the foundation of his monastery, but Deiniol does not seem to have remained there long. He left Powys for Gwynedd, where he founded the monastery of Bangor in Caernarvonshire, under the patronage of Maelgwn Gwynedd, who largely endowed it with lands and privileges, and, it is said, raised it to the rank of an episcopal see. Here Deiniol spent the remainder of his days as bishop.

We know little of the early years of Bangor in Arfon, or Bangor Fawr, as compared with other Welsh monastic foundations. Some of the sons of Helig ab Glannog were monks in it; and on the destruction of Bangor Iscoed by Ethelfrid in 607 or 613 some of the monks that escaped came hither. Deiniol is said to have been succeeded by his son Deiniol the Younger; and the next bishop whose name is known was Elfod, styled Archbishop of Gwynedd, who died in 809. Deiniol was present at the Synod of Brefi.

ST DAVID [HUNDLETON]

St. David (Dewi Sant):

Patron saint of Wales. Abbot and Bishop.

Son of St Non or Nonna or Nonnita (late5c) who was the daughter of Cyngar. She was living the life of a nun and it is said that Sant, King of Ceredigion, forced his unwelcome attentions upon her.

The earliest surviving Life of St David was written by Rhigyfarch, son of Bishop Sulien of St David's about 1090. He claims to have written it from very old documents preserved in the diocese and tells how at the time of the Saint’s birth his mother struggled through a storm until she sank down on the ground beside a huge stone. "Then" says Rhigyfarch, "the place shone with so serene a light that it glistened as though the sun was visible, and God had brought it in front of the clouds". He goes on to relate that at the moment of St David's birth the great stone divided itself, one part remaining behind her head, and the other standing upright by her feet. It is said that this stone lies covered under the foundations of the alter of the little chapel of St Non built to mark the site, and there can be little doubt she had taken shelter under a cromlech. His mother according to some accounts, retired to Brittany after the Saint’s birth, and is buried at Dirinon, Finistere, where a beautiful 16c shrine and effigy can be seen in the chapel of St Non, there is also nearby a Holy well bearing her name as well as one nearby dedicated to St David. Up to the time of the French Revolution a mystery play was annually acted at the Pardon held in her honour representing her story with such frankness which would need expurgation if it were revived today.

St David's date of birth is unknown but one date suggested is 462AD, he had died before St Augustine came to Britain in 597AD.

He was educated by St Paulinus (5th C) a disciple of St Germanus (378-448) (Bishop of Auxerre) who visited Britain at the request of the Church probably in 429-430AD and again in 447AD to combat Pelagianism. His principle church which he founded was at St David's and his nick-name was “DyfrwiÇoräAquaticus” - Waterman.

He was widely travelled and is believed to have visited Rome and Jerusalem canonised in 1120.

Asser a monk of St David's was one of King Alfred's advisers.

The  most  important life of Dewi Sant or St. David was written some 500 years after his death by Rice marchus (Rhygyfarch), Bishop of  Menevia, from  1088 -  1096.  There are other Latin 'lives,' but they all seem to be based on this one; there is also a life in Welsh, written by an anchorite of Llandewi  Brefi in  346. Dewi is still the one purely Welsh Saint that has been formally enrolled in the Calendars of the Western Church. It is supposed that his canonisation took place in the time of Calixtus II, 1119-1124, following on the compilation of his life by Rhygyfarch. It was then that the cult of Dewi, from being that of a local saint, became that of the Patron of Wales.

In writing the life, Rhygyfarch had to rely on oral tradition. The city and church of St. David's had been sacked repeatedly between 795 and 1088. On the last occasion, in 1088, the Cathedral had been completely destroyed, so that few, if any, written documents could have survived.

The name of David's father is given as Sant in Welsh, implying 'a saint' or 'a monk.' He was of the Brythonic family of Cunedda. His mother's name of Non implies "a Nun". She probably had Irish Goidelic blood in her veins. Sant was probably a monk in the monastery of Maucen or Mancen at Ty Gwyn on the side of Carn Llidi. This establishment was probably a double monastery, or rather a school to which were admitted pupils of both sexes. Non may therefore have been a pupil when she conceived, and not a nun who had taken vows.

She left the monastery of Maucan and went to a cottage on the cliffs beyond Bryn y Garn, above a little bay which now bears her name. Here she remained till she brought forth her child. There was a certain man in the district, accounted a tyrant by Rhygyfarch, and Non had fled to this place to hide from him. The 'tyrant' was probably Cynyr, her father, who may not have relished the scandal in his family. Later on, Sant and Non came to be recognised as saints themselves, and this enabled the conception to be presented in a different light.  Rhygyfarch was able to include a story  to the effect that Sant, whilst hunting near the  "Old Church" about  three  miles east of Newcastle Emlyn, was informed by an angel that a virtuous  son would be born to him, even though he had embraced the monastic life.

When Non had given birth, Bishop Ailbe, who had refused to say mass with her in the church, came over and baptised the child in a spring at Porth Clais.

David was sent at a suitable age to be instructed at Yr  Henllwyn  or  Vetus  Rubus, "the Old  Bush," the same place as Ty Gwyn, over which Paulinus was now abbot. The name Alba, or rather Alba Domus, is the latin rendering of Ty Gwyn or White Church. On the slopes of Carn Lidi, above Porth Mawr stood "the Old Bush," probably of thorn, where the stone monastery was erected. It probably got the name of Alba Domus or Ty Gwyn when it was whitewashed. It is said to have been founded by St Patrick.

"And David grew up full of grace and lovely to be looked at. And he learned there the rudiments the psalms, the lessons of the whole year, and the Mass; and there his fellow disciples saw a dove with a golden beak teaching him and singing the hymns of God."

David remained under Paulinus for ten years. Then it would seem that Paulinus retired, to be replaced by David whose inheritance gave him a right to the post. About the year 527, Gildas appeared on the scene, and, seeing David as the head of the community whilst still quite young, he tried to oust him and take on the government himself, probably to turn it into a daughter house to his great settlement in Armorica. When Cadoc refused to become involved, Finnian of Clonard was called in to arbitrate, and he pronounced in favour of Dewi, no doubt because of his family.

But David did leave the monastery for a while, having placed his uncle Guistlianus in charge.

Whether it was at this time, or some other that he established some of his many churches in South Wales, we do not know. It seems likely that he established churches in Gower after the expulsion of the Goidels.  It is also probable that at same period, he travelled through Dumnonia to Cornwall and thence to Brittany, where his principal foundation is at St. Divy, near Landernau in Leon.

Perhaps he went there during the outbreak of the yellow plague which raged in Britain from 547 to 550, as did St. Teilo. The story that he went to Jerusalem is possibly a mediaeval invention aimed at establishing the independence of the Welsh Church from that of Canterbury.

 But wherever he travelled on that occasion, when he returned to the Old Bush, he found his uncle Guistlianus still there.  David had come to the conclusion that the site was undesirable. He said to him: "From this place scarce one in a hundred will go to the Kingdom of God. I know another spot whence few will go to hell; for every one who shall be buried in that cemetery in sound faith will obtain mercy." David's motives for the above were no doubt of a practical nature; at any day a pirate vessel might land there, destroy the monastery, and easily cut off all escape in the direction of the mainland. It was expedient for them to go further inland, and to settle on a spot concealed from the sea, and less exposed.

The old site was now given up, and David and his disciples Aidan, Teilo and Ismael, with others unnamed, migrated to the new locality. This was Glyn Rhosyn, in the valley of the Hodnant.

They settled there in the evening, and lit a fire. Now nearby, at Clegyr Fwya (the Rock of Boia), lived an Irish freebooter who had settled there and who terrorised the neighbourhood. In the morning he saw the smoke of David's fire and his wife goaded him to drive them out. Boia went, but David easily pacified him. Boia's wife, however, was highly incensed when she heard that the settlers were monks from "the Old Bush" and she resolved to be rid of them. Accordingly she sent her maids to bathe in the stream close to where the saints were. Some of the monks complained to David that this would become unendurable if repeated daily. But he assured them that the girls would soon tire of their bathing if they took no notice of them. As Boia refused to molest the monks, his wife resolved to propitiate the underground divinities with a sacrifice. She invited her stepdaughter named Dunawd to pick nuts with her one warm day, and, when she had persuaded the girl to rest her head in her lap, she shore off her hair and cut her throat, pouring the innocent blood to the gods. This did not produce a result, and the woman ran away, afraid of her husband's wrath when he knew she had killed his daughter. The following night an Irish pirate ship landed. The pirates found the entrance to Boia's fort unguarded, burst in and slew Boia in his bed.

David was now able to proceed with the construction of his monastery.  It was probably of stone, as no timber of any size grows in those parts. David devoted himself wholly to prayer, study, and the training of his disciples. But life in the monastery was not always a bed of roses. On one occasion David's steward attempted to murder Aidan, his favourite disciple. On another occasion a visiting Irish saint with a fiery temper killed the boy whom David had assigned to wait upon him, with a single blow of his fist. The penitential code of David shows that much wild blood was to be found in his and other monastic settlements of the period.  Severe penalties had to be adjudged in cases of drunkenness, murder, and attempted murder, and other gross crimes. Kissing a girl had to be expiated by three days' penance.

It would seem that David's rule was seen as too strict to please all the monks, for on one occasion his steward, cook and his deacon tried to poison him.  But St. Scuthin who was on a visit from Ireland, suspected something, and announced that on that day he alone was going to wait on David. Then the deacon, fearing that the plot was discovered, turned pale and retreated in confusion. The bread that had been offered to David was thrown away, and a dog that ate some of it died almost at once; also a crow. An investigation was held.  "And all the brethren arose and lamented, and cursed those deceitful persons, the steward, the cook, and the deacon, and with one voice damned them and their posterity, that they should forfeit their place in the kingdom of heaven for ever."

Except when compelled by necessity, David kept aloof from all temporal concerns. He did not attend the Synod of Llandewi Brefi when convened by Dyfrig. As no agreement could be arrived at there relative to matters in dispute, Paulinus advised that he should be sent for and Dyfrig and Deiniol went to fetch him. On his arrival he advised them to move from the old Roman station of Loventium to a mound at Llandewi Brefi, where speakers could stand and be heard. It would seem that this Synod was called together in order to enact canons of discipline; the story that it was primarily to deal with the Pelagian heresy is possibly an addition by the mediaeval biographers.

David's activities, and perhaps also those of his fellow monks, are witnessed by churches bearing the name of Dewi in Herefordshire, in Monmouth, Brecknock, and Radnor, as well as in Ceredigion and Pedydiog, and Gower and the lands between the Tawe and the Towy. There are also dedications to him in S.W. England and Brittany, and he is credited with having provided Ireland with a form of the Mass.

At length David's strength began to fail. He said Mass and preached to the people one Sunday, and on the following Tuesday, being March 1st., he was in the Church, as he had continually been for several days, and early in the morning he listened to his monks singing the psalms. Then falling into ecstasy he exclaimed: "Raise me after Thee," and expired. At the very moment of his death his old companion St. Kentigern, had a vision whilst praying at Llanelwy; he saw him enter heaven, conducted "with heavenly music into the joy of the Lord, crowned with glory and honour." The year of his death was possibly 589.

ST DECUMANUS [RHOSCROWDDER]

St. Decumanan:

Anglicized version of the Latin Decumanus – the Latin name of St Tegfan - a local Saint -alleged to have had his head cut off brought it back to his home country here in

Pembrokeshire and where he placed it on the ground holy water has flowed ever since - martyred 706 near Dunster in Somerset.

St. Devanus: (Tyfanogor Devynog)

According to Fenton he reached Britain as a preacher of the Gospel in AD186 and ended his days on Ramsey Island. There used to be two chapels on the island, one dedicated to him one to St Justiniana native of Brittany who lived on the island 200 years later. St Justinian’s Chapel was on the cliff edge a few hundred yards north of the harbour, St Devanus chapel stood by the stream that flows past the farmhouse garden. According to Brown Willis the ruins of both were visible in his day

Ramsey Island was a retreat of St Tyfanog in the 2C. (South Wales - H. L. V. Fletcher 1956).

Porthstinan - Chapel of St Justinian.

He is said to have been murdered by the natives of Ramsey Island and that his body swam across to where the chapel was built. (1891 – Four Welsh Counties – Kilner).

St. Dogfael: – Dogmael - Dogwel

Little known – believed spent most of his life in Pembrokeshire but there are also dedications to him in Brittany where his name is linked with helping Children to walk.

St. Dubricius: (Dyfrig ).

The oldest life of St. Dubricius is found in the Book of Llan Dav written in the twelfth century. Unfortunately much of the life and particulars of land grants in that book have been modified to suit its aim of reclaiming properties which once belonged to the saint but which were then in the diocese of Hereford. There is, however, some information about St. Dubricius in the 'Life of St. Samson' which was written much earlier by a monk of the monastery of Dol in Brittany.

The story of Dubricius begins in what is now Herefordshire, in the small Celtic kingdom of Erging or Ercych. Pepiau, the king, had been away on a military expedition. On his return he

found that his daughter was in the family-way. He was angry and ordered her to be put in a skin bag and thrown into the river. She was, however, washed ashore, so he sentenced her to be burnt alive, but when the king's messengers went to inspect the ashes, they found her sitting on the pyre nursing her new-born son. Pepiau ordered them to be brought to him, and when he let the child stroke his cheeks he found that it cured him of a dribbling mouth, a long-standing ailment. Pepiau then granted to the child the place where it had been born, which was called Matle. The place is now called Madley. It is about seven miles from Hereford, and a Roman road passes through it in the direction of Abergavenny.

We have no reliable information about the early life of Dubricius, nor his instruction. 'The first monastic settlement made by him was at Henllan, now Hentland on the Wye, about four and a half miles north-west of Ross. He must have been one of the most important saints and teachers of his times for it is said that he gathered as many as two thousand disciples there. He remained at Henllan for seven years, and then he began a new settlement at Mochros, now Moccas, about five miles from Madley. He seems to have founded other settlements in the Golden Valley, at Cum Barruc and perhaps also Abbey Dore. In fact, he and his disciples may have set up as many as two dozen establishments in what is now Herefordshire.

It was the custom of the early Celtic saints to seek a retreat in lent, away from their teaching and other duties. For this purpose he seems to have founded the abbey on Caldey Island near Tenby. He also received a grant of Penally on the mainland exactly opposite Caldey. Perhaps this was given him in recognition of his founding the abbey on Caldey. Penally is known as the birthplace of St. Teilo; it is also famous for its ornamented Celtic stone cross. Whether Dubricius had any contact with the young Teilo is not certain, but it is by no means impossible.

Dubricius is also said to have had a foundation in Gower, and the dedication of the parish church of Porlock in Somerset (in documents of the 15th. and l6th. centuries) implies that he or his monks were involved in the great missionary expansion which went out from South Wales. Dubricius lived and died somewhere between the years 450 and 550. He died on Bardsey Island on November 14th.

Some years after the saint's death, in 577, the battle of Deorham took place. This led to settlements of the Hwiccas on the lower Severn, and no doubt to raids over the Wye into the kingdom of Erging. The monasteries of Dubricius and his disciples in Ewyas and Erging were utterly wasted, and the monks escaped carrying their relics and books with them. "Be it known," says a charter of the time, "that great tribulations and devastations took place... due to the heathen Saxon race, and it was mainly on the confines of Britain and Anglia [towards Hereford] and it was so extensive that the whole borderland of Britain was almost destroyed... and mainly about the river Wye, on account of wars and frequent daily and nightly incursions, on one side and on the other. After a while, peace having been established, the land was restored by force and vigour (to its rightful owners); but it was swept bare and unoccupied, with men few and far between."

We know that some of the monks of Dubricius took refuge with St. Teilo at Llandaff. Later on, the Church of Llandaff took over the abandoned sites of Dubricius' foundations. Thenceforth the Church of Llandaff assumed itself the legitimate inheritor of all the possessions of Dubricius. It had harboured the refugees; it had kept their Books of the Gospels with their marginal records of grants of land. This explains why the compiler of the Book of Llan Dav aimed at recovering possessions of Dubricius from the see of Hereford; but Dubricius had probably never really had anything to do with Llandaff, which may not even have been founded until after his death.

ST ELEN

St Elen:

The Welsh wife of the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus 338-383AD – she was said to be the daughter of Eudaf a prince of Arfon. (see Bletherston).

St Elidyr:

Amroth church may have been founded by Sir Eliderde.

Stackpole13c but the patron saint is St Elidyr reputed to have owned the wonderful horse Du Y Morvedd – the black one of the Sea who made a great journey carrying 7 and a half people in its back. (South Wales – H. L. V. Fletcher 1956).

ST FAITH & ST TYFEI

ST FLORENTIUS [ST FLORENCE]

ST GEORGE the MARTYR [ANGLE]

The stories about St George come from the period of the crusades. There never was an actual St George and the stories about him are quite unhistorical.

ST GWYNOG [ST TWYNELLS]

St. Illtyd:

St. Illtyd appears to have been one of the most important teachers of his time. He was a native of Armorica, but of British stock. He was educated in "the seven sciences' by St. Germanus. But he had no desire to embrace the monastic life, and he crossed the sea and served under King Arthur, who was said to be his cousin. He was married and Trynihid, his wife, was a virtuous woman. After a while, he left Arthur and attached himself to Paulinus or Paul of Penychen, a cantref in mid-Glamorgan. It would seem that his conversion dates from this period, from a time when he nearly lost his life in a swamp.

Illtyd then withdrew from the service of Paul of Penychen, and went, "accompanied by his wife and attendants," to the banks of the Dawon in south Glamorgan, "and it being summer time, he constructed a covering of reeds, that it might not rain upon their beds; and while their horses were depastured in the meadows, they slept the night away, their eyes being heavy."

During the night, Illtyd had a dream which confirmed his resolution, and he made up his mind to leave his wife.

In the morning, he roused his wife and told her to go and see to the horses. When she returned, naked and shivering, instead of allowing her into the bed, Illtyd threw her clothing to her, and told her to dress and be gone. The poor woman wept but Illtyd was resolute in his purpose. He dressed himself and set out for Hodnant, a pleasant dip among low hills, watered by a tiny stream. Having made up his mind to settle there, he went to St. Dubricius where he was shaved and received the monastic habit. Then he returned to Hodnant and Dubricius marked out for him the bounds of a burial place, and in the midst of this, Illtyd built a church of stone and surrounded the whole with a quadrangular ditch. Here he lived an ascetic life, bathing every morning in cold water, and rising to prayers in the middle of the night.

Hodnant, now Llantwit, was an attractive site near the Severn Sea.

One day, Meirchion king of Glamorgan, was hunting when a fawn he was pursuing fled for refuge to Illtyd's cell. When the king saw the beast crouching at Illtyd's feet he did not venture to kill it. He ate a meal of broiled fish provided by Illtyd. This food was not to his liking, but he slept the night there, and awoke the following morning in a better temper, confirmed Illtyd in his holding of the Hodnant valley, and granted that he should make of it a tribal school. Illtyd kept the fawn with him and tamed it to draw wood and do other light domestic tasks.

This incident took place early, when Illtyd had few disciples. Once he had the security of tenure, disciples flowed to him from every quarter, among them men of good family. "He had labouring men to till the soil. Seed multiplied, and toil met with abundant reward." As scholars he had Samson, Paul, and David. He seems also to have taught Gildas, and possibly Maelgwn Gwynedd.

Meanwhile, Illtyd's wife had herself been leading a devout and virtuous life, but an irresistible urge to see her husband came over her. She found him working in the fields, but he refused to listen to her and denied her hospitality. They never met again.

Illtyd had trouble with two of king Meirchion's stewards who seem to have begrudged his holding land without paying tax. Illtyd found the annoyance of these men so intolerable that twice he retreated to a cave by the River Ewenny, leaving Samson in charge of the monastery.

On the death of the second steward, who fell into a swamp, Illtyd returned to Llantwit, and remained there unmolested.

Hearing of a famine in Armorica, he ordered vessels to be laden with grain, and, along with these ships, he sailed to Brittany. The natives there specially needed seed-corn, which he was able to provide. Their gratitude was great, and they urged him to stay in his native land, but he returned to Glamorgan. In his old age, he is said to have returned again to Brittany, and to have died there at Dol. But there is uncertainty about where he died, whether in Brittany or Wales. He died on November 6th probably between the years 527 and 537.

The memory of Illtyd is honoured in Wales on account of his having introduced an improved method of ploughing. A Welsh Triad says that he was one of the "three knights of the Court of Arthur who kept the Holy Grail," the other two being St. Cadoc and Peredur.

About four miles from Brecon, there is a well known cromlech called 'Ty Illtyd' (Illtyd's house) so-called because of a popular idea that the saint had made it his hermitage.

St Ismael:

Son of Budic of Cournouille in Brittany and Anauved the sister of Teilo – was a pupil of Dyfrig - was one of the chief disciples of David and accompanied him when he set up the monastery at Glyn Rhosyn. Upon David's death was appointed to the Bishopric by his uncle Teilo.

ST JAMES [MANORBIER].

St. James:

Tradition records that James was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He is the James mentioned by Mark "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” [6:3]. James saw Christ after the Resurrection [1Cor.15:7], and with Peter he was one of the leaders of the early Church in Jerusalem [Gal.1:19] and, after Peter had left Jerusalem he appears to have been the principal authority, presiding at the Council of Jerusalem [Acts15.14].

ST JAMES & ELIDYR [STACKPOLE ELIDOR].

ST JOHN'S [PEMBROKE DOCK].

St Justinian:

(See St Devanus).

ST MARY'S [ANGLE] [WARREN] [NASH] [PWLLCROCHAN] [CAREW]

[PEMBROKE].

ST MICHAEL [PEMBROKE] [BOSHESTON].

ST MICHAEL and all ANGLES [COSHESTON].

ST NICHOLAS & JOHN [MONKTON].

ST PATRICK [PEMBROKE DOCK].

St. Patrick:

(390-460) was born in Britain of Christian parents, but at the age of 16 he was enslaved by Irish pirates and taken to what was then called Tirawley (in Co Mayo). He hated his captivity, and became a man of intense prayer. After some six years he managed to escape, and found his way back home. He longed to return to Ireland, however, but this time armed with the Christian Gospel. He trained for ordination, and in due course went back to Ireland as bishop having been ordained by St Germanus of Auxerre. He established his see at Armagh, and devoted the rest of his life to the service of the Irish people, to pastoral care, to evangelism, to education and the general establishment of the Church.

ST PEDROG [ST PETROX] [ST PETROC]

St. Petroc:

Abbot. According to the life of St. Petroc by John of Tynemouth, he was the son of Glywys, king of Glwysing. His eldest brother was Gwynllyw the warrior. He left South Wales "rejecting the vanities and transient allurements of the world; despising worldly for heavenly things, he began to adhere firmly to God, and gave up his country, his kindred, and at last all the things of this world. Leaving home, he reached Cornwall, in the district called Botomeni (Bodmin), where, throughout his life, he served God most devoutly, and erected a very large monastery in his honour." The Welsh pedigrees, however, say that he was a son of Clement of Cornwall; but the two may be reconciled perhaps on the basis of one of them being his spiritual father. We may also note that there were many settlers from Wales in north- East Cornwall, perhaps including this Clement. Petroc is said to have entered a monastery at an early age. After some years, he went over to Ireland where he studied for twenty years. Then he returned to Cornwall, accompanied by his disciples, and landed at Padstow.

It seems that St. Samson was staying there at that time. St. Petroc visited him, but was given a somewhat cool reception; but it was Samson who left, and Petroc stayed in Padstow for about thirty years. He was wont daily to stand from cock-crow to dawn in the water chanting psalms. He ate nothing but bread, except on Sundays, when he had a good bowl of porridge. The 'life' then takes on a mythological nature. Petroc went first to Rome, then Jerusalem, and then India, where he fell asleep on the beach. On awaking, he saw a large silver bowl moving towards him across the waves. It was large so he planted his staff and set down his sheepskin, and climbed into the silver vessel. At once it took him over the waves to a certain island where he landed. He spent seven years there, living all the while on a single fish which he caught daily, but which always returned sound to be eaten again. At the end of seven years, the shining bowl re-appeared and returned him to his beach in India. He found his staff and sheepskin where he had left them, guarded by a wolf. Then he returned to Cornwall, and the tame wolf went with him. This legend is no doubt derived from a pagan myth of a divinity sailing in a silver bowl of the moon over the heavenly ocean. When he reached Cornwall he found that the people there had forgotten that he had once predicted the weather wrong for them. Back in Padstow he eventually obtained grants of land from Tewdrig, a notorious tyrant, and later from Constantine. He is, in fact, said to have converted Constantine. One day when he was hunting a fawn, it sought refuge under the saint's coat. Petroc was thus enabled to found his great monastery at Bodmin. The spot he chose was occupied by Guron, a hermit, who surrendered it to him. Petroc died at an advanced age on June 4th. The year of his death was around 590. Petroc's body remained at Bodmin until 1177, in which year it was secretly carried off to the Abbey of St. Mevin in Brittany. The prior of Bodmin went to King Henry to complain about the theft, and the King sent letters commanding Roland de Dinan, Justiciary of Brittany, without delay, to cause the body to be restored. Which it was, 'and the sacred body was restored in all its integrity, without the least diminution; the abbot and monks of St. Mevin having sworn on the relics belonging to their church that they had not retained any portion of the body."

ST SAMSON [SAMSON FARM]

St. Samson:

He was a pupil at the monastry of Llanilltwid Fawr on the site now known as Llantwit Major, under St Illtyd, It is possible that Dewi Sant was also educated there.

St Samson was appointed Abbot of Caldey and later consecrated Bishop by St Dyfrigor Dubricuis.

Samson visited Ireland – then settled in a cave in a rock near Bosheston near a camp and Church he had built for his disciples. A Farm, a Cross and a bridge within a mile of the cave are known to this day by his name. He later went to Cornwall and to Brittany where he founded the monastery at Dol – he died at Dol about 565 and is generally regarded as the patron saint of Brittany.

Samson's father was Amwn, of Demetia (but perhaps descended from Emyr Llydaw), and his mother was Anna, daughter of Meurig ap Tewdrig, king of Morganwg. When quite young he was sent to St. Illtyd to be educated. He studied hard, and his master was said to be the most learned of all the Britons in the Scriptures, in Philosophy, to wit, Geometry, Grammar, and Arithmetic. At the age of fifteen Samson began to practise fasting, but was reprimanded by St. llltyd, who said, "My little son, it is not proper that you should injure the health of your small body in its early bloom by excessive abstinence." Illtyd employed his pupils in repairing the old dykes that had been erected by the Roman legionaries to keep out the tides of the Severn. On a Sunday, when Dubricius visited the monastery for the purpose of conferring orders, three were submitted to him, two to be ordained priests Samson to be received into the diaconate. Then it was, as the three knelt, that a dove flew in at the window, and when the bishop raised his hand to lay it on the candidate for the diaconate, the bird perched on Samson's shoulder. The favour shown to Samson by his master roused the jealousy of two of the brethren, nephews of Illtyd. What they dreaded was Samson aspiring to the succession after Illtyd for he was first cousin to him. These two brothers resolved on getting rid of him. They prepared a poisoned herbal drink for him but did not succeed in killing him. Samson was ordained priest and again the dove appeared, but visible only to Dubricius, Illtyd, and Samson himself. Samson began to feel uneasy at Llantwit because of the prejudice against him, but he said nothing. One day, however, Illtyd himself recommended that he should go to the monastery at Ynys Pyr or Caldey Isle, which was presided over by "an illustrious and holy priest" named Pirus. In his new quarters, Samson became more strict than before in his mode of life. No one saw him idle; he was continually occupied reading, writing, or in prayer, when not engaged on the manual tasks imposed on him. Whilst Samson was at Ynys Pyr his father fell ill and it was feared he might die. The old man sent for his son Samson's reply to his father's messengers was, "I have left Egypt, why should I return thither?" But Pirus intervened and made him go.

Samson selected a young deacon as companion, and they set out with two horses. They passed through a dense wood, and the strange sounds, the hooting of owls, and cries of hawks filled the deacon with terror. Then they heard a human voice hallooing. The deacon panicked, let go of the bridle of the horse he was leading, threw away his cloak, and fled. A woman issued from the shade, grey-headed, with wildly-flowing hair, and carrying a boar-spear in her hand. Seeing the young man running she threw the spear at him, but without hitting him; however, he fell in a faint on the ground. Samson tried to rouse him, and then called to the old woman. She came hesitatingly, not wishing to lose her spear. "You hideous creature: Who and what are you?" rudely inquired the saint. The poor woman said she belonged to the original inhabitants of the land, but that she, her mother and eight sisters were all that remained. Her husband was dead.

Samson told her to revive the deacon, but she said she could not, whereupon he cursed her to die on the spot. Then she fell down to the left, and expired. On reaching his father's house, Amwn ordered everyone outside, except his wife, son, and the deacon, and before them he confessed the sins of his past life. Then, urged by Anna his wife, he vowed to dedicate himself to God, and insisted on having his hair clipped immediately. Not content with this, Anna said they should devote all their offspring, and surrender their possessions. Amwn agreed, and Samson accepted five of his brothers, but he refused the one sister as he saw that she would be addicted to the vanities of the world. At the same time Umbrafel and Afrella, his uncle and aunt, asked to enter the religious life. Samson made arrangements for his mother and aunt, and asked his father and uncle to accompany him to Ynys Pyr. Amwn and Umbrafel divided all that they possessed into three portions, one for the Church, one for the poor, and the third they reserved for themselves. Their sons and daughter got nothing.

When Samson arrived at Ynys Pye, he found that Dubricius was there for lent. Apparently the story of the death of the woman in the forest had got about, and Dubricius felt he should investigate it. He summoned the deacon and tried to get the truth out of him. That Samson had killed the poor creature could not be denied; the question was whether he had knocked her on the head, or had merely killed her with his curse. She had belonged to one of the aboriginal native tribes, and these people were credited with being given over to necromancy. The woman, on her own confession, was a witch, or so the deacon said, and it was a command of Moses, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

Seeing that there was no other witness, Dubricius accepted the deacon's version. Dubricius now appointed Samson as steward of his monastery. This upset Pirus; he complained that Samson had been wasteful with the honey (or mead:), but Dubricius looked into this and decided that the charge was unfounded. It seems that Pirus was replaced because he had taken to drink. Soon after, one night, this "eminent man and holy priest" got drunk and fell into the well. The monks heard him howl, and quickly pulled him out, but he died the same night. Samson began to reform the monastery, which led to tension between himself and his monks About eighteen months later, some Irish monks returning from Rome visited the island, and Samson took the opportunity to go to Ireland with them, leaving his father and uncle behind. He stayed there for some time, founding churches at Bally Griffin, in the county of Dublin, and Bally Samson in South Wexford. He returned to Ynys Pyr, and, finding that his uncle had made some progress in religion, he sent him to Ireland to a monastery that had been committed to him. He refused to take over the running of the monastery at Ynys Pyr and went with four companions, including his father, to an isolated creek at Stackpole. There he settled his companions in an ancient camp and himself in a cave where he could spend most of his time alone. After a time, Dubricius, acting in concert with a synod, sent him a letter requesting his presence. He could not refuse and Samson ended up at the head of the foundation at Llantwit, at a time when St. Illtyd had to go into retreat because of the vexations of the king's stewards. One night, it was revealed to him that he was to quit Britain, and go to the land that had been so extensively colonised from that island. This happened when Illtyd was able to resume as abbot, and Samson was required to step down. Samson therefore resolved to go to Armorica. He seems first to have sailed around the Severn estuary, and thence to Cornwall where he landed at Padstow. Here he made a little foundation where is now the site of his chapel and cemetery. He left his boat, loading his possessions on to a chariot he had brought back with him from Ireland. He seemed to have had the idea of crossing over to southern Cornwall, to take a ship from the south coast for Brittany. It appears that he spent some considerable time there, as is witnessed by his having made other foundations, one at Southhill, near Callington, and another at Golant. His disciples also made settlements here, as St. Mewan and St. Austell. During his travels in Cornwall, Samson came across a group of people dancing around a standing stone on the hill of Tregeare. He remonstrated to them, but the people explained to him that no harm was meant; they were merry-making as was their immemorial custom; but some advised him to mind his own business. Samson, however, persisted in his denunciation of the ceremony, and, after a boy had been thrown from a colt, and revived by Samson, they listened to him. But instead of destroying the stone, he cut a cross upon it. The revellers gave up their dancing for that year, to resume at the next anniversary. Eventually, he crossed with his disciples over to Armorica, landing at Guioult. The land there was low and marshy, except for Mont Dol, which must have attracted them, but had been already occupied, perhaps as a fortress. One day, in the vicinity, Samson came across some locusts settled on some brambles. “Ha” he exclaimed “Locusta – in this locus sta - we will accept this as a command and here abode”. This was the beginning of Samson’s famous foundation at Dol. When Samson arrived there, the usurper Conmore was acting as regent for Childebert, king of the Franks. Conmore had treated many of the saints badly, and Samson saw an advantage in replacing Conmore by the rightful heir, Prince Judual. Now Judual was held in honourable captivity in Paris, so Samson went there to ask Childebert to release him. At first Childebert resisted, but, afraid of Samson's anger, he eventually let him take the prince back to Brittany with him. Judual began a rebellion, and Conmore marched against him and was defeated in two battles; in a third he was killed by the young prince himself, on the slopes of the Monts d'Arree. The success of the revolution meant that Samson and the other abbots who had helped, were now in favoured positions. Samson went in his Irish chariot back to Paris, to obtain confirmation from Childebert of various land grants that had been made to him. On his return, he made Dol his permanent residence. He was said to have been 120 years old when he died, but this may be an exaggeration; it was on July 28th, possibly in 565.

According to Eleanor Shipley Duckett in Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (A Study of Monastic reform in the tenth century - (1955) page126) - the arm of St Samson of Dol along with relics of other saints was given by King Athelstan in 933 to the Abbey at Milton in Dorset.

ST TEILO [PEMBROKE DOCK].

St. Teilo:

500approx. St Teilo is said to have been a cousin of St David, born at Penally and educated by St Dyfrig whom he succeeded. His principle monastery was Llandeilo Fawr in Carmarthenshire. According to some accounts he founded Llandaff. Left Wales in 547 to escape the yellow plague and returned to Llandaff after 7 years. In 577 accompanied the British forces to do battle against the Saxons - invoked divine aid for their leader, Iddon ap Ynys who thereupon won a decisive victory on the Banks of the Wye.

In a Life of St Teilo included in the Book of Llan Dav, he is said to have been known also as Eliud and also the name Elidyr has been associated.

Teilo is one of the most important of the Welsh Saints. His 'life' is contained in the Book of Llan Dav or Liber Landaviensis. This book was drawn up in the twelfth century for the purpose of establishing the rights of Llandaff against those claimed by the see of St. David's and the see of Hereford. It cannot therefore be trusted as a reliable account of history.

Doble has pointed out that the older St. Chad Gospels do not suffer from this drawback, and that they contain marginal , traces which mention the 'Altac of Teliau,' the amilia Teliavi' or monks of Teilo, governed by the 'Bishop of Teiliau.' Although claims have been made that Teilo was the founder, and first bishop Llandaff it is now believed that his monastery referred to in the Book of Chad was in fact at Llandeilo Fawr or Great Llandeilo.

The link with Llandaff was that eventually all the properties of Llandeilo Fawr were transferred there. St Teilo was born at Penally, near Tenby, and opposite Caldy Island. Whether he ever had any contact with or teaching from St. Dubricius will probably never be established. It is more certain that he was instructed by Paulinus at Ty Gwyn where he met David as a fellow pupil. When David started his independent foundation in Glyn Rhosyn, where now stands the Cathedral that bears his name, Teilo went with him. The life says that David, Teilo and Padarn went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This may be true, but there are those who think it was invented by the Welsh sees in Norman times to resist the encroachment of Canterbury.

Apart from his principal monastery at Llandeilo Fawr, Teilo obtained grants of land and founded a large number of monasteries and churches. But in 547 appeared the yellow plague againt which there were no known medicines. Teilo resolved to flee along with his community. He took with him a large number of bishops, and a great many men and women, and escaped into Cornwall, were he was well received by King Geraint. Then he sailed across to Armorica and visited St. Samson at Dol. He stayed in Armorica for seven years and seven months, and he left a number of foundations there, many retaining his name. When Teilo died it was at Llandilo Fawr in Carmarthenshire. It is said of him when asked by St Cadoc, "what is the greatest wisdom in a man" that he replied, "to refrain from injuring another when he has power to do so." He is celebrated in the Welsh Triads as one of the three "Blessed visitors of the Isle of Britain," the other two being Sts. David and Padarn.

3 churches contended for his remains when he died, Penally, Llandeilo and Llandaff.

There is a legend however that when he was on his death bed he called to him a devoted maid servant and charged her straitly to perform for him this last service: a year from the day of his burial she was to take his skull to a small church he had built at Llandilo in Pembrokeshire beside a spring of clear water, so that all ailing folk who drank the water from the skull should be cured of their infirmities. The girl did as she was told and for hundreds of years the well-water drunk in this way wrought cures of all kinds of ailments, including the whooping cough. In the19c the little church fell into disuse and decay and the skull was kept at a more recently built farmhouse where a Welsh family by the name of Melchior lived, traditionally they were Descendants of Teilo's maidservant. In1850 and even later sick people were travelling from distant parts to take the miraculous Cure but about the turn of the century Miss Melchior, the last of the family, sold the skull for £50 to a "person representing himself as acting on behalf of some museum or other" and it has never been heard of since. (Welsh Walks and Legends - Showell Styles).

Return to Research Topics