Slike strani
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Constantine has been surnamed “the Blessed” in consequence of being considered a Saint of the British Church, and Llangystennyn near Conway is perhaps dedicated to his memory.

In “Achau y Saint” the following curious notice occurs respecting him :-" It was the glory of the emperor Theodosius in conjunction with Cystennyn Llydaw, surnamed the Blessed, to have first founded the College of Illtyd, which was regulated by Balerus, a man from Rome; and Padrig, the son of Mawon, was the first principal of it, before he was carried away captive by the Irishmen.”*_The College here mentioned was that of Caerworgorn, which was also called Côr Tewdws; but what authority Theodosius the Second, who was at this time emperor of Rome, or rather of the East, could have exercised in Britain is more than can be explained; unless it be supposed that the name was given to the College in compliment to him because Balerus was a Roman. The account will not justify the supposition that it was founded by Theodosius the Elder, or by Theodosius the Great, neither of whom was a contemporary of Cystennyn Llydaw. But the most remarkable part of the statement is a Welsh tradition respecting the great Apostle of Ireland, who, according to the Silurian catalogue of Saints, was the son of Mawon, and a native of the country of Gŵyr or Gower in Glamorganshire. He was also called Padrig Maenwyn; and as Caerworgorn was situated near the sea coast, the story that he was carried away from thence by the Irish in one of their expeditions would be thought by no means improbable, if it were supported by other testimonies. In a composition acknowledged to be a genuine production of St. Patrick, and entitled his “ Confession,” he states that he was but sixteen

when he was made captive; his youth, therefore, precludes the idea that he was at that time the principal of a College. He further explains that his father was Calpurnius, a deacon, who


of age

* Cambrian Biography, voce Padrig.

lived at “Bonavem Taberniæ,” near to which was the village of “ Enon," from which he was himself taken into captivity. The situation of these last places is disputed; and while they are generally considered to have been in North Britain, others contend that they should be looked for in Armorica. To enter into the circumstances of his life would be needless upon the present occasion, and, until the evidence of his connexion with the Principality were better supported, all further investigation would be deemed irrelevant. Ricemarchus, Giraldus Cambrensis, and John of Teignmouth relate that he settled at one time in a small valley at Menevia, called Vallis Rosina, where he built a monastery and intended to pass his days in religious seclusion. But an angel, appearing, commanded him to preach the Gospel in Ireland ; and, in confirmation of his mission, displayed to him the whole of that country in a vision from the spot where he stood. The legend adds that the same angel foretold that Menevia should be famed for another Saint, who should be born there thirty years after that day. The Saint predicted was St. David; and absurd as the whole fable may appear, the latter part of it was embodied in one of the collects of the Breviary of Salisbury, and devoutly repeated over a great part of England before the Reformation. The only religious edifice in Wales, known to have been dedicated to St. Patrick, was a chapel, which once existed in the parish of St. David's Pembrokeshire; and, according to John of Teignmouth, was situated close to the spot where the angel showed him the vision of Ireland.* The year

447 is the date of the second mission of St. Germanus to Britain. His stay was short, as, according to the computation of Usher, he died in Italy the following year. His former colleague, Lupus, survived him thirty years, but upon this occasion he was accompanied by Severus, Bishop of

* Llanbadrig in Anglesey is reported to have been named from another Padrig, the son of Aelfryd ab Goronwy.


Triers. Several fables are related by Nennius and others as to the acts of his second mission, the whole circumstances of which are too absurd to repeat. One of them is in brief:Ketelus, or Cadellus, the swineherd of Benly, king of Powys, offered the Saint that hospitality which had been refused by his master; in consequence of which Benly was deposed by the Saint, and the swineherd was elected in his room, whose descendants continued afterwards to possess the territory.* It so happens that the Welsh accounts mention the name of Benlli Gawr, who, according to Mr. Owen,t was a chieftain of a district in the present county of Denbigh about the middle of the fifth century; but he was succeeded by his son Beli. By Ketelus is meant Cadell Deyrnllug, *“ a prince of the Vale Royal and part of Powys,” who rose into power about this time. These facts show that there is some foundation for the story, though they are no proof of its correctness. It is remarkable that there is a church dedicated to St. Germanus, called Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, in the district which might have been part of the possessions of either Cadell or Benlli ; and a chapel, subject to the church of an adjoining parish, is called Llanarmon Fach.

Another story relates that Vortigern endeavoured in a council of the Britons, held in Gwrtheyrnion, to palm upon the Saint the fruit of his own incest ; for which he was cursed by the Saint and the whole body of the clergy assembled; and that afterwards Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, to appease the Saint, gave him the lands upon which he suffered the insult to be his for ever. Gwrtheyrnion is a district of Radnorshire,

* See Usher, De Primordiis, Cap. XI, who attributes this tale to the first mission; but the arrangement here attempted is more consistent with chronology. The names are given according to Gildas, as of better authority than Ranulphus Cestrensis.

+ Cambrian Biography.

I Nennius, as quoted in Jones's Brecknockshire, Vol. I. page 52, says that Cadell Deyrnllug was converted and baptized by St. Germanus.

forming the present hundred of Rhayader; and there is in it at this day a church, which under the name of St. Harmon's is ascribed to St. Germanus. Whether these stories were invented to account for the origin of the churches, or whether the churches owe their dedications to the previous existence of the stories, is more than can be determined; but the coincidence is singular.

The festival of St. Germanus was observed July 31, or, according to other authorities, August 1. The churches, the foundations of which may be ascribed to him, are—Llanarmon in Iâl, Denbighshire, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, ditto, St. Harmon's, Radnorshire, and Llanfechain, Montgomeryshire; and the chapels dedicated to him are- Llanarmon under Llangybi, Carnarvonshire, Bettws Garmon under Llanfair Isgaer, ditto, Capel Garmon under Llanrwst, Denbighshire, and Llanarmon Fach under Llandegfan, ditto.

That Germanus effected a great change in the religious condition of the Britons is not unlikely from the respect so generally paid to his name ; and it may be observed that there are no parish churches in Wales which can be traced to a higher date than his first visit, and even those that may

be so ancient are few. Parochial churches did not belong to the early ages of Christianity. According to the concurring testimony of ecclesiastical writers, the clergy lived for some time in towns in communities under their Bishop, from whence they itinerated about the country, and on their return brought with them the offerings which they had collected for the common support of the society. But about the beginning of this century the ecclesiastical system was undergoing a change, and Germanus would regulate the British Church after the model of the Gallican. Accordingly, in the Council of Vaison in Gaul A. D. 442, a decree was made “that country parishes should have presbyters to preach in them as well as the city-churches ;*--and to the influence of this circumstance, the origin of country churches in Wales may perhaps be traced.

* Bingham's Ecclesiastical Antiquities, Book IX. Chap. 8. Section 1.

About the commencement of this generation, Gwrtheyrn, or Vortigern, first appears among the chiefs of the Britons. According to Nennius his territories included the northern part of the present counties of Radnor and Brecon, and some of the Welsh genealogists state also that he was the regulus of Erging or Erchenfield in Herefordshire. From these two points being considered together it would appear that his dominions, as the leader of a clan, extended along the vale of the river Wye. But in 448, or about the time of the second visit of Germanus, he became by treachery or otherwise the Pendragon or chief ruler of Britain. To trace the various circumstances of his history would require a separate treatise; for they have been obscured with the extravagancies of romance, and a careful investigation would be necessary to distinguish the truth from fable.* Suffice it for the present purpose to say that his ancestors, as given in the mutilated orthography of Nennius, were “Guortheneu,+ M Guitaul, M Guitolin, Map Glou ;” and the following is the pedigree of his descendants according to Achau y Saint:

[blocks in formation]

* Instances of the confusion, with which Geoffrey of Monmouth has clouded the life of Vortigern, have been shown by Mr. S. Turner in his “ History of the Anglo Saxons," Vol. I. Book II. Chap. VII.

+ While nearly all accounts agree that the father of Gwrtheyrn was Gwrthenau, some modern pedigrees state that his grandfather was Rhy

« PrejšnjaNaprej »