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that, for the first century after their commencement, they are so brief that they afford but few data for tracing the progress of superstition, But the introduction of the custom of dedi. cating churches to Saints, after the Catholic method, would have been so remarkable an innovation that it could hardly pass unobserved. Accordingly, in two of these Chronicles, the following curious notices occur. In Brut y Tywysogion, or the Chronicle of the Princes, it is stated that between A. D. 710 and 720 “a church of Llanfihangel was consecrated;" and in Brut y Saeson, or the Chronicle of the Saxons, it is said “in 717 was consecrated a church of Michael.” Neither of the Chronicles offers any further explanation, but as there is no church of St. Michael in Wales of eminence sufficient to deserve this special notice, the most rational interpretation of the record is, that the church alluded to was the first, in the Principality, dedicated to the Archangel, and the date alleged occurs at a time when such a circumstance might reasonably be expected.
It must not, however, be denied that in the works of Bards who flourished before A. D. 700, some traces may found of the corruptions of Christianity; for to state, that the Welsh Church was entirely free from them, would be an assertion which it would be impossible to maintain. But these traces are slight. Allusions to religious subjects are very frequent, and it would appear that some respect was paid to the memory of Saints; but on the supposition that all the
patriarch there, from the year 842 to 847,) to enquire of certain ecclestical traditions, and the perfect and exact computation of Easter. It is to be inferred from hence, that as there can be no doubt that the British isles are referred to, that the disputes respecting Easter were not yet laid to rest; and that our Britons, not being satisfied with the determination of the Pope of Rome, resorted to the decision of the bishop of Constantinople,” (Vol. II. p. 317.)
* Archaiology of Wales, Vol. II. p. 300. + Ibid. Vol. II. p. 471.
poems ascribed to that age are genuine,* a point which is more than questionable, the intercession of Saints is noticed only three times; namely, once respectively in two compositions which an ancient MS. attributes, with an expression of doubt, to Taliesin ; and the third instance occurs in a poem, ascribed in the Archaiology of Wales to the same author, but since acknowledged to be modern.t The oldest composition, in which the Welsh Saints are spoken of superstitiously, is attributed to Golyddan, a contemporary of Cadwaladr, near the close of the period in question.
The dedication of churches to St. Michael, doubtless, led the way
to the erection of others in honour of St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles, which were founded as occasions required them until modern times. In arranging the latter, those, which from the nature of their endowments show that they have some claim for consideration on the score of antiquity, may be ranked in the same class with the former; and the list may also include those dedicated to St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, and St. Mary Magdalene, as well as the older churches of St. Mary the Virgin. But the churches dedicated to the Apostles, in Wales, are not many; and of those enumerated by Ecton, nearly one half can be shown to have had Welsh Saints for their original founders.
* The number in the Archaiology of Wales is upwards of a hundred, and those which are spurious may be distinguished from the rest by the modern style in which they are written.
+ The acknowledgment is made by one of the editors of the Archaiology, who thus explains the rule observed during its publication.
“The editors of the My vyrian Archaiology were bound to give to the world all the pieces, whatever their origin, which were ascribed to the poets whose works were comprised in that collection, leaving it to the critic to elucidate the various styles, and pronounce upon the authenticity of the productions—this department was not within the scope of their undertaking.” (Dr. Owen Pughe, in the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine, Vol. V. p. 109 & 204.) The first two poems, alluded to above, are inserted in the Archaiology, Vol. I. pp. 76—77 and 169–170, and the last in p. 83 of the same Volume
| The time when the dedication of churches to the Virgin first commenced in Wales cannot be ascertained; but the carliest instance upon record is that of a church, near the Cathedral of Bangor, which was founded, in honour of St. Mary, in A. D. 973, by Edgar, King of England. (Wynne's History of Wales, ---Beauties of North Wales, p. 443.)
The mean period of the erection of churches of the last foundation is the twelfth century. To this class belong, besides the remainder of the Apostolic churches, all such as are dedicated to inferior Saints of the Roman Catholic Calendar, such as St. Nicholas, St. Lawrence, &c. which were erected principally by foreign adventurers. But the great preponderance at this period of churches dedicated to St. Mary, * may
in some degree be attributed to the Cistercian monks, whose order was the most prevalent in Wales; and it was a rule of the fraternity that their religious houses should be dedicated to the Virgin.t
As formal dedication in honour of Saints was not the ori. ginal custom of the Welsh, the question which remains is, the era of those chapels which have been built in honour of natives of Wales ; that they are ancient may be shown from the fact that the great majority of them are parochial, and few of them are subject to churches dedicated to the Apostles and other Saints whose homage was introduced at a later period. When the Welsh began to honour Saints after the Catholic method, they would naturally direct their attention to those who deserved that respect among their own countrymen. But it appears to have been under certain limitations; and compared with the Apostles, and other celebrated names, the holy men of Wales could only rank as saints of an inferior class. To regard the founders in the character of tutelar Saints of their respective churches was an obvious mode of proceeding; but in the establishment of new foundations preference would be given to Saints of more extensive reputation; and the only edifices, erected in honour of Welshmen, would be chapels in places where they had lived, or subject to churches connected with their history. In other countries where the Romish Church has prevailed, many persons who never were canonized have been allowed the honours of sanctity in their immediate neighbourhood, and in this local character the saints of Wales must be considered. Accordingly many of the chapels called after Welshmen are found to be dedicated to the Saint of the mother church, to his relatives, or to persons whom tradition has connected with the place; and the prevalence of known cases of the last kind is sufficiently great to justify a similar inference being drawn where the tradition has been entirely forgotten. Chapels of this description must generally have been erected while the memory of their Saints was comparatively recent, and may therefore be deemed coeval with churches of the second foundation. The perishable nature of tradition, and the occupation of several parts of Wales by foreigners will sufficiently explain why no material increase was afterwards made to their number.
* An examination of the poems of the Welsh Bards, in the order in which they stand in the Myvyrian Archaiology, will show that St. Mary began to receive distinguished attention about A. D. 1200, which pre.. eminence appears to have continued until the Reformation. Vol. I. pp. 315, 324.
+ Tanner's Notitia Monastica.
That the Roman Catholics, or, at least, the various conquerors of Wales, all of whom professed that religion, hardly considered the primitive founders in the light of Saints, will further appear from the circumstance that in
instances they gave their churches a new dedication. To show how far the practice prevailed the following list is adduced.
St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, St. David and St. Andrew.
Llansilloe, Herefordshire, St. Tyssilio, St. Peter.
Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, St. Cathen, St. Michael and All Saints.
St. Thomas, alias St. Dogmael's, Pembrokeshire.
It is not necessary to extend the list further, but the hypothesis must depend upon the supposition that Ecton is correct in assigning those dedications which differ from the Welsh names of the churches, or from the known history of their founders. It can, however, be verified in certain cases. For instance, the church of Llantoni, which was originally founded by. St. David and called after his name, is now stated to be dedicated to St. John the Baptist. But in A. D. 1108, a Priory of Black Canons was built on the spot, by Hugh Lacy, to the honour of St. John the Baptist, which accounts for its present dedication. The second dedication of the two Cathedrals is well attested. And of all the religious houses founded in Wales since the tenth century, not one, except perhaps the Collegiate church of Llanddewi Brefi, was dedicated to a Welshman.
The Romish Church was however determined to have its martyrology of Britain ; and out of “Cressy,” the Catholic historian of this kingdom, may be enlisted about a hundred British Saints and Martyrs, from the first dawn of Christianity to the close of the sixth centry. A few only of their names are to be found in the Welsh accounts, and as for the rest, persons acquainted merely with the history of Wales might well wonder from whence they came. Their legends, however,