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From the extent of the parishes attached, it may be inferred, that the foundations of several of these churches are of consis derable antiquity, and seem to belong to the class of those dedicated to St. Michael and St. Peter. There is a vague tradition that St. Bridget visited Wales, which may in some degree account for the homage she has received; but veneration for this holy person has, for some unknown cause of preference, been diffused so widely, that she deserves to be called pre-eminently the saint of the British Isles; for churches have been consecrated to her memory throughout England and Scotland, in the Isle of Man, and especially in the Hebrides. Her remembrance, however, was in no place cherished with more fond assiduity than at Kildare in Ireland, where a sacred fire kindled by her own hands was kept perpetually burning, and according to Giraldus Cambrensis had not been extinguished for six hundred years. Her death is supposed to have happened about A. D. 525, and the first of February was held as a festival in her honour.
Colman was a saint who flourished in Ireland about the same time as Ffraid. Llangolman, subject to Maenclochog, and Capel Colman, subject to Llanfihangel Penbedw, both in Pembrokeshire, are dedicated to him, but it is not known whether he had any personal connexion with that county. He is sometimes called Colman the elder, to distinguish him from another Colman, the third bishop of Lindisfarn.
The Welsh Saints from the Accession of Uther Pendragon A. D. 500,
to the Death of Arthur A. D. 542.
The saints of this generation are exceedingly numerous, and the history of one or two already noticed remains to be concluded.
Dubricius still continued to preside over the see of Caerleon, and it is said that he had the honour of crowning king Arthur. In his time the Pelagian heresy, which for a while had been suppressed by St. Germanus, had increased to such a degree that it required an extraordinary effort to check its progress, and, if possible, to extinguish it. Accordingly a synod of the whole clergy of Wales was convened at Llanddewi Brefi, in Car liganshire, and the following is the account given of it by Giraldus Cambrensis in his “ Life of St. David.”—
“ The detestable heresy of the Pelagians, although formerly extinguished through the labours of Germanus of Auxerre, and Lupus of Troyes, when they came over to this island; this pestilence, although once suppressed, sprung up anew, and gave occasion for convening a general synod of all the churches of Wales. All the bishops, and abbots, and religious of different orders, together with the princes and laymen, were assembled at Brefi in the county of Cardigan. When many discourses had been delivered in public, and were ineffectual to reclaim the Pelagians from their error, at length Paulinus, a bishop, with whom David had studied in his youth, very earnestly entreated that that holy, discreet, and eloquent man might be sent for. Messengers were therefore despatched to desire his attendance ; but their importunity was unavailing with the holy man, he being so fully and intently given up to
contemplation that urgent necessity alone could induce him to pay any regard to temporal or secular concerns. At last, two holy men, namely Daniel* and Dubricius, went over to him. By them he was persuaded to come to the synod; and after his arrival, such was the grace and eloquence with which he spoke, that he silenced the opponents, and they were utterly vanquished.+ But Father David, by the common consent of all, whether clergy or laity, (Dubricius having resigned in his favour,) was elected primate of the Cambrian Church.”—
This is the account generally received, and it is said that St. Dubricius, worn down with years and longing for retirement, withdrew to a monastery in the island of Enlli or Bardsey, where he died A. D. 522. He was buried in the island, where his remains lay undisturbed till A. D. 1120, when Urban, bishop of Llandaff, through the favour of Radulphus, archbishop of Canterbury, obtained the permission of David, bishop of Bangor, and Griffith, prince of North Wales, to remove them.t They were accordingly translated to Llandaff, where they were interred with great pomp and solemnity in the cathedral, which had been rebuilt a short time before from its foundation. But the most remarkable feature in the history of the pro
* Intended for Daniel, the first bishop of Bangor, whose life, to avoid an anachronism, should be placed a full generation later.
+ Tradition points to the site of the church of Llanddewi Brefi as the spot where this memorable sermon was preached, and Cressy relates, with a devout faith, that the following miracles took place upon the occasion.“When all the fathers assembled enjoined David to preach, he commanded a child which attended, and had lately been restored to life by him, to spread a napkin under his feet, and standing upon it, he began to expound the Gospel and the Law to the auditory: all the while that this oration continued, a snow-wbite dove descending from heaven sat upon his shoul. ders; and moreover the earth on which he stood raised itself under him till it became a hill, from whence his voice like a trumpet was clearly heard, and understood by all, both near and far off; on the top of which hill a church was afterwards built, and remains to this day."
Life of St. Dubricius in Wharton.
ceeding is the fact that the bones of the saint were discovered with great difficulty. Inquiry was made into the monuments of the past, and the oldest writings were searched in order to ascertain where his body had been deposited; by whom, how, and at what time it was buried. The passage of the Book of Llandaff, which records these particulars, though written when the Romish religion was at its highest ascendency, has there, fore, in making this admission, betrayed the inference, that in whatever esteem the Britons of the primitive Church might have held the memory of their holy men, they could not have worshipped their relics. The body of the great archbishop of Caerleon, whose reputation for sanctity was almost equal to that of St. David, lay unenshrined for six centuries. His example, however, in retiring to close his life in Bardsey, was so extensively followed, that according to the exaggerations of after ages, no less than twenty thousand saints were interred in the island, the entire surface of which was covered with their ashes; but his remains were so little regarded that other bodies were buried over him, and how his relics were afterwards distinguished from the general heap is a problem which the author of the record has left unexplained.* His death was commeniorated on the fourth of November, and his translation on the twenty ninth of May.
The most eminent saint of Wales must now be introduced to the reader; David, or, as his countrymen call him, Dewi, was the son of Sandde ab Ceredig ab Cunedda, by Non, the daughter of Gynyr of Caergawch. To repeat all the fabulous legends invented respecting him, would be to heap together a mass of absurdity and profaneness; for the monks, in the
*“Quod vero postmodum investigatum est, et adquisitum monumentis seniorum, et antiquissimis scriptis literarum, quo loco sepultus est infra sepulturam sanctorum virorum Eolli; quoque situ firmiter humatus est; et a quo, et qualiter, quorumque principum tempore.”—Lib. Landav, MS. as quoted in Roberts's Chronicle of the Kings of Britain, p. 338.
"* and in
excess of their veneration, have not scrupled to say that his birth was foretold thirty years before the event, and that he was honoured with miracles while yet in the womb. But to pass by these wretched imaginations of a perverted mind, it will be sufficient to notice only those statements of his history which have an appearance of truth. It is said by Giraldus that he was born at the place since called St. David's, and that he was baptized at Porth Clais in that neighbourhood by Ælveus, or rather Albeus, bishop of Munster, " who by divine providence had arrived at that time from Ireland.” The same author adds, that he was brought up at a place, the name of which, meaning “the old bush,” is in Welsh “Hen-meneu," Latin “ Vetus Menevia.”—The locality of Hen-meneu is uncertain, and a claim has been set up on behalf of Henfynyw in Cardiganshire,+ which answers to the name, and its church is dedicated to the saint; but it is clear that Giraldus and Ricemarchus, from whom the information is derived, intended to designate some spot near the western promontory of Pembrokeshire, possibly the Roman station of Menapia, for the latter writer intimates that the “ Old Bush,” as he calls it, was the place where Gistlianus resided before he removed to the valley of Rosina. I
St. David is reported to have received his religious education in the school of Iltutus; and afterwards in that of Paulinus at Ty-gwyn ar Dâf, where he is said to have spent ten years in the study of the Scriptures, and where Teilo, the second bishop of Llandaff, was one of his fellow-students. It would appear
from Giraldus that he was ordained a presbyter before he entered the school of Paulinus, and the same author states that
* His etymology of the word is borrowed from two languages, hén being the Welsh for old, and muni, as he says, is the Irish term for a bush.
+ Carlisle's Topographical Dictionary of Wales, voce Hensynyw.
| Various readings to Giraldus, in Wharton Vol. II.-See also page 162 of this Essay.