Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve, the night of the Nativity of the Lord

Christmas Eve in Assissi and The Nativity Story in 'Modern Speak'


From Twm Barlwm this Christmas 2008

One of Monmouthshire's highest mountains, the homs of St Derfyl's chapel which attracted many pilgrims here throughout the Middle Ages, to see the chapel of the soldier Crusader, who, sickened by killing in the Holy Land, established here a chapel to pray for the world as a hermit. His chapel lies on the 'Cistercian Way' and pilgrims still visit the ruins on St Derfyl's farm to this day.At the sixteenth century, Henry VIII's men dragged the statue of Derfyl to London from the hands of the protesting Cwmbran pilgrims and burnt it in London. To many today, Derfyl is no reference at all, yet he was an example of the principles of Christian life and sacrifice and service to others. At then end of our lives, we will be asked what we did, selflessly in the service of others.Faith is key to all, but as St Paul says how we followed the teachings of the Lord will also be important. 'If ye love me, Keep my Commandments'.

Doing our own thing

Now it's in our nature to do our own thing. But is 'our own thing' right. Does it take account of the impact on others? Do we have a conscience, or do we perhaps get a kick of 'getting one over' on someone else and enjoying their distress?

Looking down from Twm Barlwm this Christmas night, where I am a the moment, I see darkness descending, just as the darkness descended on Adam, when he' did his own thing'when he was disobedient afer being deceived by the very plausible and persuasive serpent, the devil in disguise. Oh and -don't let the devil deceive you into thinking he does no exist-if you let him in by hardening your heart , you will allow his hands to be your hands too.

The darkness descends over the valley, swallowing up the new town, the old village, the Avon Llwyd river,the Shopping centre, Newport and the River Severn in the distance and Little England beyond. The darkness his Christmas Eve brings silence.... yet slowly, small twinkling lights appear, at fourpm the lights at St Gabriel's Anglican Church go on, and little children in their best and party clothes cram in for he Christingle-the little orange representing our little world, the red ribbon around it representing the Precious Blood of Christ.So the cocktail sticks contain dolly mixtures and raisins, the seasons and fruits of the Holy Spirit of Christ and in the centre, a pure whie candle, representing the Light of Christ. A candle is not only a physical thing, but while it burns it lives and casts light all around. If you live your life according o the Law of Love , smiling and making people cheerful, trying to spread around the joy of Christ, especially in how your treat other people, you truly are spreading Light and warmth as you brun with His love in your heart.

St Francis of Assisi and Franciscans in Cwmbran

Later the lights go on at 'Our Lady of the Angels', built by the Franciscans in he nineteenth century. And wasn't it the Founder of the Order, Francis of Assissi, who built he first Christmas Crib and prayed over the Manger, glorifying the Lord's love of he poor and vulnerable wo ge kicked around in the world, left behind and marginalised by the smart and cool? Bethlehem, the town of Bread , was the home of hat amazing miracle, God making himself into a man by the collaboration of a fifeen year old girl,the Blessed Maid Mary who had been specially prepared to receive him, who had been hailed by an angel, who told her she would be blessed forever, because she agreed in this amazing plan.

And it is so amazing , that without looking for the Holy Spirit, without searching for Christ , knocking a his door, you can never come in. He calls many times but it's whether you answer Him. If you look ,God will show himself to you and open your eyes.Because Faith that this infant God, made into a human form, gives us hope, as the video above shows. He showed us that we will not die but come back in to he Garden of Eden as his dear children, if we believe on his promise and renounce the devil and try to keep selfishness,anger, irriability,lying, cheating, stealing, taking human life, adultery, all these kind of things out of our life, and be a source of Hope for other people broken by these evil things-the helpless drug addict,the alcoholic, who has lost his family and home, the knife and gun carrying youths,with no real families, those who rejoice in cruelty.

A Beacon of Hope and Love

Always give Hope and Love and you will be shining a light all around.People will look for you when they need help and counsel.The Baby in he stained glass window, is real, that truth is real.

God has given us so much help:
1)Washing clean from the original sin of he Garden is Bapism-(The New Circumcision-St Paul)
2)Holy Orders Men appointed by St Peter to act in the name of Christ, hear your sins and cleanse them.(Whatever sins you forgive on earth will be forgiven in heaven-Christ's promise to Peter, when he put the Church in his hands, Peter, his Rock)
He gave Peter the right to ordain men in his name, whom he has called to go out and serve his people.
3)'If you do not eat my body and drink my blood-you will have no life in you' St John Chapter 6 verses 52 and 53.Ignatius of Antioch, a student of St John in the Bible, on his way to be eaten by lions in Rome,re inforces this when he writes to he Smyrnians 'Keep away from the schismatics-(people who have fallen away from the Church of Peter) for they believe not that he bread they eat is the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ'. St John must have taught him this. When Christ instituted the Offering of his Body and Blood on Holy Thursday, he day before he was crucified, he said 'This is my body and This is my blood' and whnever they got together they should do this. In St John Chapter 6, we see that even those directly with Christ walked away (@his is a hard teaching) He did not say-'Come back, I only mean you o do this as a symbol,he lets them go. But the true disciples do not desert him.Again St Peter says 'Lord, where shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.' Peter again, faithful and true. Faithful and True to the Truth.
5)Confirmation- The calling down by authority of the local Christian leader or Bishop on those who have stood up to reinforce and promise what was promised by them by their parents and godparents in Baptism (or Christening)This brings graces-gifts and fruits-Understanding, Wisdom, Good Counsel,Knowledge and other things)
6)Matrimony, the joining together of a man and woman, to create new children of God and the couple take on themselves to have and to hold, for better fro worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health and the couple work to live out their lives as good parents and teachers of the faith for their children.
7) The Signing and Sacrament for sick and dying people. The Wafer of Bread is now called 'Viaticum' food for the journey to the next life, with accompanying confession if his is possible. For we truly believe we are going on a journey and physical death is not the end.

An old Welsh chiefain (Elaeth)from Celtic times wrote:

Not to remember God's gracious defence of the pure
Nor he angels
Is excess of wicked pride.
Woe to those who do so openly in the world.

I have no love for wealth of itself, its trace is always passing
All the world is a dwelling by summer pasture.
I am God's servant, High Praise to him.
The God is best to follow.

I love Praise of Peter, who governs just peace
And his long-lasting blessing.(Church)
There is hope in him in every nation.
Gentle and praiseworthy, generous Keeper of Heaven's gate.

I seek from God who grants what is asked of him
Elohim our protector
For my soul against pain
The protection of the saints.

I seek from God a worthy petition
Against the wounds of enemies.
For my soul, because of its thoughts
The protection of Mary and all the Virgins.

And I seek from God a just petition
Who can be my defender
For my soul against terrible sin
The protection of all Christians in the world?

Hail to you glorious Lord!

The Visible Church

So Christ did no leave us an invisible Church on earth to help us. The church is made up of sinners, but among them are magnificent souls, examples of Christ's teachings and Very being as God himself. 'God from God. Light from Light.' 'True God' (Very God) 'Now in flesh appearing' as the words of 'O Come All ye Faithful' say . What an amazing offer, what an amazing promise!

The Lights at Our Lady's blaze now as all Christians go to see the new Baby born at Bethlehem, a Baby who is the fulfiment of all he prophecies. The Bread of Life in the Wafer born in the Town of Bread.-Bethlehem.And Cwmbran becomes a Bethlehem as the lights go on all over the valley, a vast array of glittering light as we rejoice that the one who can address the 'hopes and fears of all the years'as in each home the human story is played out. So as the faithful people, all of us hopeless sinners stream in to Mass to watch the image of the baby being placed in the manger amid the Holly and Ivy , and the overwheling smell of the evergreen pine, we attend with Praises, candles carols and thankfulness that we can live with him forever. This is our Hope, a Hope which Benedict XVI has spoken about constantly this year.So let us be glad and sing with the angels-

Gloria in excelsis Deo Glory to God in highest Heaven
Venite Adoremus O Come let us adore Him
Venite Adoremus O Come let us adore Him
Venite Adoremus Dominum O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Cwmbran children singing these words in Cwmbran Town Centre.
Salvation Army in Cwmbran (Listen to the podcast from iTunes-Mary in Monmouth.
The Mari Lwyd in a Mummers' Play in Cwmbran December 2008. The Venerable Mary.(see last year's blog on this custom.


The Lord at first did Adam make right out of dust and clay
And in his nostrils breathed life
E'en as the scriptures say
And then in Eden's Paradise
He placed him to dwell
That he within it should remain
To dress and keep it well
Now let us all, both reat and small
A holy life to live
And to rejoice and merry be
For this is Christmas Eve.
And then within the garden was
Commanded him to stay
And unto him in Commandment

The words the Lord did say.
'The fruit which in the garden grows
To thee shall be for meat
Except the tree in the midst thereof
Of which thou shall not eat.
Then sing we all both great and small
A holy life to live
Let us rejoice and merry be
For this is Christmas Eve.

'For in the day when thou shalt eat
Or do it as come nigh,
For if that thou dost eat thereof
Then thou shalt surely die!'

But Adam he did take no heed
Unto that only thing.
But did transgress God's Holy Law
And so was wrapped in sin.
Then sing we all both great and small
A holy life to live
Let us rejoice and merry be
For this is Christmas Eve.

Now mark the goodness of the Lord
Which He for mankind bore
His mercy soon he did extend
Lost man for to restore.
And then for to redeem our souls
From death and hellish thrall
He sent his own Son from above
For to redeem us all.
Like sister and brother
Lets love one another
Noel! Noel! Noel!
Let us now praise sweet Mary's Child
Who came with us to dwell.

Then sing we all both great and small
Amen as we do say
Let us rejoice and merry be
For it's now Christmas Day.

Ancient Carol from Devon

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the Fourth Advent Sunday! 21st December 08

Modern Celtic Woman Rendition of the Wexford Carol, by Maev from Wales! I have, in the last two weeks posted three podcast programmes on Mary in Monmouth, which should bring us to the end of our current study of the Story of Christianity in Britain up until the end of the first Millennium. Of course there are ommissions and as I can get into see places-even Celtic places I have not been able to reach yet, I will do a little flashback, but am concentrating next year on the Religious Houses of Gwent, most of them now Anglican Parish Churches, except for the Cistercian Abbeys like Tintern and Llantarnam, which is DG still used as an Abbey by the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy. The events have moved fast, a new and beautiful Statue plus the news that an Indulgence under all the usual conditions (confession, Mass etc) is still in force for those who visit the shrine. A great Grace is that Cadw the government body looking after the abbey is making a house available as a Pilgrim Centre. In St Michael's in Newport and ur Lady and St Michaels in Abergavenny, we have the news that the Tridentine Mass is once again being offered thanks to the Pope's 'Moto Proprio'and that it seems there has been an upsurge in new vocations to the Priesthood. Am perturbed that very few churches are offering Midnight Masses at Midnight. They seem to have slipped to 9pm which is too early for us, so we may pay a visit to the Anglicans this year and go to Mass in the Morning at St Mary's in Newport, the Church where I was married and our son was baptised. I think I have covered most of the materials from the podcasts on the blogs before, but they also contain some surprises! I am sending a special Christmas Edition of the Mary in Monmouth Podcast on Christmas Eve itself and hope you will download via iTunes or listen at this link or simply type it in at the iTunes store! These are all images of the former St Peter's Abbey, (Benedictine) Gloucester not Gloucester Anglican Cathedral. The recordings of the Victorian Medley and 'O Nata Lux de Lumine' were made here in the North Transept above the choir.Interesting was a stained glass window pane with an image of Pope Clement on it!At St Neot's I saw a stained glass pane of Pope Urban. Resonet in Laudibus (14thCentury German Christmas Hymn) Resonet in Laudibus 14th Century German Carol Resonet in laudibus, (Resound in Praise) cum jucundis plausibus,(With jocund shouts) Ecclesiam cum fidelibus (Who appears with the Faithful of the Church) apparuit quem genuit Maria.(to the Holy One born of Mary) Christus natus hodie, (Christ is born today) ex Maria virgine, (From the Virgin Mary) sine virile semine: (Without the seed of Man) apparuit quem genuit Maria. (He appeared who was born of Mary) Pueri, concinite, (Boys, celebrate) nato regi psallite, (Sing psalms to the King) voce pia dicite: (Speak with a pious voice) apparuit quem genuit Maria (.to him who appeared born of Mary) Sion, lauda Dominum, (Zion, Praise the Lord!) salvatorem hominum, (The Saviour of Mankind) purgatorem criminum (The Criminal of Purgatory) apparuit quem genuit Maria. (Who appeared, born of the Virgin Mary) Sunt impleta quae praedixit Gabriel,(As it was explained by the Angel Gabriel) Eia, Eia, (Lullay Lullay) Virgo Deum genuit (The Virgin bore God) quem divina voluit clementia.(Whose divinity wishes clemency) Hodie apparuit, (Today he appears) apparuit in Israel, (He appears in Israel) ex Maria virgine: (Out of the Virgin Mary) est natus Rex. The King is born)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two More Old Welsh Monastic Settlements-Llanfihangel Ystern Llewern and St Cadocs at Penrhos


This little site of an early Welsh Monastery can clearly be seen in outline. The circular Churchyard on a small mound, next to a stream of the River Trothy. It is five miles North West of Monmouth and the village, in the Saxon Hundred of Skenfrith lives from sheep farming and grassland and Fruit trees.There are 1814 acres, of which 900 are arable, 650 meadow and pasture, and 264 woodland. The surface is agreeably diversified with hill and dale; the soil is a stiff clay, producing good wheat. The Parish Church which was dedicated to St Michael-(Llan fi angel_My Angel was always Michael God’s first lieutenant) The Church is now administered by the Anglican Church. Offa’s Dyke passes through the village. This was a barrier earthwork built by King Offa of Mercia to keep out the Warlike Welsh.

Ystern Llewern seems to mean ‘Little Tavern’ .Was a small monastic settlement and the road on the Eastern side even follows around the tell tale sign of the Welsh Monastery-the curved Churchyard, the island of the Green Martyrdom of the Celtic Peoples , their version of the discipline of St Anthony of the Desert.

All we have learned from the early posts about the style of the Monastic settlement, the way it would have been cleared, the forty days of fasting and abstinence and round the clock prayer to make it holy. The building of a wooden or wattle church (some later ones even out of stone, the Romans had discovered cement, Then the small monastic houses where the religious would live with their wives and children. In many such settlements, before celibacy for priests had been decided these places worked as Christian Communes.Hospitality and charity were key.There is no evidence of Saxon development, but by Norman times it does figure in legal documents.

During the Middle Ages, the church was built in Stone The Church of St. Michael is an ancient building of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a turret of wood and stone, containing 3 bells.. Unfortunately the church was not open for me to visit and I have no closer details of this small church, which looked wonderful in the autumn colours of its trees. When Henry the VIII founded his church, the church passed into Anglican ownership. However it was not until 1678 that records began to be kept there (thuis during the time when the College of St Francis Xavier had been founded in the Cwm in Abergavenny and while Fathers David Lewis and Father Philip Evans were the Catholic priests moving around amongst those who had been fined into attending the official royal church.
The church has 81 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Anglican Bishop of Llandaff,
You can see the chancel and sanctuary facing east, which were probably the first building. The church has been recently restored again, but probably remains locked for security reasons. Looking down from the Church on the raised ground, you an quite clearly see the mountains of Abergavenny and the arable land which suported it as a monastic settlement. If anyone can furnish any pictures of the inside of Llanfihangel Ystern Llewern (clan vee hang ell ustun clerwunn) I would be delighted to put them up.

Llangattock Penrhos St Cadoc’s at Penrhos


Whilst I was in the area I drove down to what appeared to be a larger and wealthier church of St Cadoc at Penrhos. We know that locally recusant families , banished from their former church would meet for Mass under the auspices of Father David, Father Philip or any other of the brave valiant priests of the 17th century.accused by the lies of Oates and others.
I have written much about Cadoc, son of Gwynlliw and Gwladys of Newport .His seven trips to Rome to meet seven popes, his trip to Jerusalem,his soul friendship with st Barruc of Barry, where Cadoc also had a hermitage at Cadoc’s Town. Cadoc was a true saint of Gwent and his remains lie according to manustripts at the Monastery of Mamhilad near Pontypool, now administrated by the Anglican Church in Wales, Dioceseof Llandaff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

St TEILO again! Another Special Monastery at Llantilio Crossenny-Llan-deilo

Earlier this year, in February and March, I posted a number of entries abou St Teilo, and of course there was also a podcast programme, not just about the life of the early saint, but also about the relic of St Teilo's Skull. St Teilo was, of course one time Bishop of Llandaff, taking over from St Dyfrig/ Bubricius and the relic of his skull can be read in the January or February blogs. In addition, I did a soundseeing tour around Llandaff Cathedral.the skull having had an interesting story all of its own in its trip around the world!

Last Friday, I visited the ancient Church at Llantilio Crossenny.St Teilo is linked inextricably with Gwent. He seems to have had a close association with Llanarth, by climbing the Skyrrid and invoking, with all his monks the strength of Almighty God with St Michael to protect the Monastery from the Saxons (The Skyrrid or 'Holy Mountain' being Englished to 'St Michael;s Mount.

We have his close attachment to King Meurig, son of King (St)Tewdrig who established and funded Llandaff and, incidentally, saw to it for hundreds of years in the future that the then=pagan Saxons did not penetrate the Forest of Dean and Wychavon into Wales. Meurig was named after the Martyr St Maurice and Tewdrig is the welsh version of Theoderick the Bishop of the ancient church.So there is also the link with Mathern, near Chepstow, where Tewdrig died. These stories are all told from the Book of Llandaff (Liber Landaviensis) on the Mary in Monmouth podcasts. There is even an account of the consecration of Llandaff Cathedral, with Teilo and his nephew Oudocceus or 'Docco' after which monasteries were named at Llandogo near Tintern and in Cornwall.

Llantilio Crossenny is fairly near (South West of Monmouth) and I remember it well from its summer festival and its concert at Christmas. My first singing teacher lived in the village at Treadam and I was called upon as a girl singer to sing there a few times, in the days where the composer Mansel Thomas played the cello. It was afterwards at the Christmas concert we all gathered in the local hostelry with a lemonade and sat by the log fire, exhilerated by the occasion and performances.It was strange to make the pilgrimage back after thirty years, and my child remembrances actually had played me false. It was a much larger and more ancient church than I remembered.

The other mention of Llantilio was in Hansard for 1679. The then vicar of Llantilio is mentioned as having testified that only forty people attended his church, most of his flocl disappearing to the Gunter House in Abergavenny and its secret attic chapel and entrance, with the 'mark of the Jesuits' (oh dear!)on the wall. This was Vicar Greenhaigh at the trial of the most blessed Martyr, Father St David Lewis , the Father of the Poor, loved by Catholic and Protestant and hung for being a priest by a grieving population. This was all in the tide of the Titus Oates hoax and the fear of the landed gentry of having their property newly aquired from the church reposessed, if ever the Catholic Church recovered from persecution. When we reach that persecution segment in our county's history, I hope to publish more about it then, but just now wish to return to Teilo because of the name Llan-tilio is an English corruption of Llan-deilo and the Crossenny part from the Latin Crucis and Welsh version of that, the cross being the Cross of King Iddon, the successor to Meurig.

In 550 AD King Iddon asked Teilo, at his Monastery in Llanarth to pray for him, as Saxons were again making raids into the area. Teilo came North, raised a Cross on the pre-Christian mound and King Iddon repelled them.In return, Iddon granted Teilo the mound to build his holy church and monastery (llan)the dedication probably being to St Teilo and the Blessed Virgin Mary as every monastery was in those days. The customary rituals would have gone on, the clearing of the area, forty days of prayer and fasting on the site, then the final dedication of the church and llan. We know the monks and brothers and sisters did a Liturgy of the Hours,much longer than ours today. Later Teilo became Bishop of Llandaff.

Llantilio Crossenny , therefore means the ;Holy Place of Teilo at Iddon's Cross.

The Guide Book to this interesting church tells us that a grant of 3 modil of land(27 acres)was granted by King Iddon to St Teilo in 550 AD which came to the Church at Llandaff and is mentioned in ecclesiastical documents of 1119,1128 and 1291 AD.This was a lot of land and would have included land for animal husbandry and crop growing to support the community. Also the first church would have been made of wood or mud and wattles as we have noticed elsewhere. When the Normans arrived in the eleventh century and set about reorganising the churches, and establishing them as local defence structures and places where weapons could be kept in the face of attacks, espeically by Welsh princes, the buildings were replaced in stone by the 12th or 13 centuries. This is the result below. The staircase leading to the upper tower room has disappeared, leaving the door, quite high up in the Wall.There was a central gothic (early English) tower in the centre , some sixty feet high. It originally had a parapet, as shown by the gargoyles and probably a flat lead roof or one in the form of a low pyramid covered with stone tiles.More details after the pictures below..


You can probably see from one of the last pictures the tell tale circular feature of the Llan.]

The Chancel

This was rebuilt in the fourteenth century in the 'decorated style' and there is still (see above) the decorated piscina, where the priest poured to earth the washing water of the chalice and patten, used at Mass. In fact, there are various arches on the North wall, leading into what would have been the Lady Chapel according to the guide book, but I would have thought the Lady Chapel, in common wit Catholic practice would have been to the left of the altar, and the right hand chapel holding the Blessed Sacrament, so that Christ, as it were was on the right hand side of God, if you faced the people from the altar and our Lady on the left hand side. I may not be right about this, and perhaps it does not matter but I observe this is usually the case. In Abbey Churches, Lady Chapels are often separate, behind the High Altar.On the South wall is the priests door,and another door gave access to a priests room. In common practice was, that when monks from the priory at Monmouth came occarionally to say Mass they would then be accommodated in this room as happened at Caerwent. The writer of the huide book also mentions the window facing down toards the altar, and it was possibly where a watch was kept on pilgims coming to pray before the relics, presumably of St Teilo-though clearly not his skull which seems to have had its own adventures, and is now once again in Llandaff Cathedral.

Welsh Reverence of Relics

A marked feature of the religious life of the old Cymry is in the respect and reverence given to relics- creiriau

In the relion and in the legal system of the tribe they play an indispensable part. Nawdd y Creiriau is frequently mentioned in old documents-it means the protection afforded to relics.When a beloved person dies it is quite usual for us to keep a remembrance-I kept an old brown jacket and driving license from my father. My house has reminders of him all over. It is a fond remembrance and assurance he is still there. In these early times people felt like that about beloved saints. After many years of their daath, often their bones would be retrieved and a bone placed under a Catholic altar, because in the Book of Revelations the Martyrs poured out at the end of time from under the altar mentioned there. According to teaching, the holiness and holy spirit had permeated every part of the Saint's body and that by praying in its proximity, there would be spiritual benefits of healing or special grace or religious insight or nearness to God, which was what the saint was now enjoying. Of course this was always going to be open to claims of abuse, that people used relics as 'lucky charms' but this was clearly not the case.Gerald the Welshman recalls the reverence of the Welsh for the relics. Swearing on the relics was the regular mode of procedure in the law courts of the tribe (Venedotian Code of Hywel Dda book 2 cap 10)

The litigant had to swear at the church where his sacramental bread and Holy Water shall be 'bara offeren ay dwyfar swyn'

In the Book of Llandaff there are many references to the custom of swearing on the relics of St Teilo. (Liber Landaviensis pp115)

Even at the time of the Annexation of Wales, the repsect paid to relics is illustrated by a letter of Edward I written about 1281 It refers to the relics of St Asaph the pupil of St Kentigern (Mungo) the original founder of the see.The King proposed that the relics be transferred from the Cathedral to Rhuddlan for the sake of safety.There are even stories of communities fighting over relics, for ecample those of st Beuno, uncle of St Winifred.(Gwenfrewi)There are also records of relics being carried into battle as late as Owain Glyndwr.Many relics were smuggled away and hidden during the times of persecution in the 16, 17 centuries and guarded by Guardians.

Easter Sepulchre

This refers to the custom during the Tenebrae.It held a large crucifix for veneration on Good Friday afternoon mass and then this would be placed in a large tomb on the north wall of the chancel or Sanctuary and a vigil kept until the light entered the Chuch at Midnight on Easter Eve. I had photos of a wooden Sepulcher at St Sannon's Church in Bedwellty. Then I noticed one in St Neot;s Church but minus the stone carved chest. I think there would have been one here too. This church was obviously important and linked with the Cathedral-it is also quite large for a country church and I really feel it would have had a stonw chest Easter Sepulchre, bow removed (when Anglicans took it over in the 16th century perhaps. Looking again at the Bedwellty pictures will give you an idea of the kind of carvings and inscriptions which would have been upon it.

Floor Slabs

There are several interesting stone slabs on the floor from various families who lived in the area subsequetly abd worshipped there in late Tudor times.

Ringing Chamber

There are eight bells in all but they are from 1709 and so not Mediaeval. Their frame rests on four large timber supports, all careved from one oak tree.They are sixty feet high and stand on four blocks of stone, one at each corner of the tower. This extra support was put in at the time the bells were put in, and the spire is also a later addition.Original bells came from Gloucester (Adrian Ruddhall)(tenor weighs 10 cwts and 23llbs (520kgs)The White Chapel Bell Foundry of London chipped in in 1978 and another two added. The present tenor weighs 4cwts and 2 qts nd 4 lb (230kgs) and is tuned in D major.

Rood Screen was torn down

Originally the steps leading to the ringing chamber also led to a rood screen, containing a Crucifix and a statue of St Maru and St John.

The Navewould originally in the stone building been in the Early English style and lower than at present.It was raised in the 14th century in a perpendicular style. It was raised on its slender colums when a clerestory was added adding more light higher up. These high arches contrast with the lower, Early English tower arch,

Saxon or Norman Font
This is found in the North aisle. It was rescued from the churchyard in the nineteenth century, probably at the time of the Oxford Movement and brought back into the Church.


The most easterly window on the north wall has glass from Llantilio Court. The leftshows the inscription and coat of arms of Sir David Gam, Knighted by King Henry V, when Sir David was mortally wounded at the Battle of Agincourt.Sir David lived at Hengwrt, a nearby manor demolished in 1459. He is purported to be Shakespeare's Fluellen in Henry V but the dates are says te guide book inconsistent.

The right side of the Window is dedicated to Sir William Herbert, also connected with Llantilio and one of the family of the glorious defenders of the Catholic Faith in future centuries.The original entrance would have been through the south porch and its stoup (next to font) but now the entran e is through a west door

Ladye Chapel

The guide book says the North transept became the Lady Chapel in the fourteenth century, perhaps because during the middle ages, the virgin mother gained greater status and perhaps the smaller chapel was not large enough.At the same time the original window was removed and replaced by the larger perpendicular window, which had four lights. This is now filled with glass by Mrs Morgan Clifford in memory of her husband and son.

Edward V (one of the murdered princes in the tower) or Edward II (1302-27)

ON either side of the altar table in this chapel-in which there is no representation of Mary today,are two corbels or brackets meant to hold statues. They could be of either of the two kings above as the hairstyles are indicative of these periods.

There is a strong article, which I will deal with in later blogs, by Fred Hndo's visit to this manor and its attick chapel. The family were strong and loyal recusant Catholics and held regular Masses at their house, Cil-llwch Manor, which still esists and is mentioned also in Hansard of 1679 at the Trial of Father David Lewis

Te lucis ante terminum

Cyn tywyll nos , O Arglwydd Nef Before dark night, O Lord of Heaven
 dyfal lef o’r galon With earnest cry from the heart
Erchwn arnat, Geidwad cu, We beg of you, dear Saviour
I’n Cadw rhag peryglon…. To keep us from all danger….
Dewi Nant Bran Father David Powell

Where did Catholics Worship in Monmouthshire/Gwent?
This cannot be an exhaustive list but is representative only…..

1.Cil llwch _Killough Manor had a secret chapel-(The Powell Family) Father Andrewes
was the priest they kept/ Killough, it is now marked on OS maps with its Welsh spelling.

It lies West of Llantilio Crossenny

Fred Hando describes a Priest hole at Cillwch. llwch referrs to running water, cil is a secret place, (The secluded place by the brook.)

There is a secret (though not very secret in the light of the information today!) chapel in the house where people gathered for Mass. The Vicar of Llantilio Crosseny testified to the House of Commons Enquiry that he had seen Father Thomas Andrews at ‘Killouch’ and had seen him say Mass there.He had also seen Father Thomas at William Davies’ House in Bettws Newydd as well.

The less lucky Faithful went to the church of St Michael at the top of the Skirrid, or Holy Mountain, where they prayed the Rosary or celebrated Mass when there was a priest. The Priest who said Mass here too was Father Andrews, a Jesuit, who did his priestly duties well and managed to escape martyrdom.The burial of Catholics during these terrible times was always distressing, as they had to be buried at the dead of night,though presumably, since they owned the living, the priest buried them in what had originally been their parish church, with the Vicar turning the other way. The Powell family, perhaps including Father Powell were buried in this church.

Green Man

There is a green man in the church symbol of death and Rebirth of Our Lod Jesus, adapted from an earlier figure of pagan worship of death and rebirth.There are two squints allowing the occupants of the Ladye Chapel to see through to the altar for the elevation of the Host before the consecration at Mass. Further testimony to the existance of an Easter Sepulchre.The guide book mentions that there may have been an anchorite in the church as well.


This contains the remains of an ancient preaching cross now carrying a simple wood cross , since the original stone one must hav ebecaome dangerous and was dismantled.This cross is a memorial to those who died in the two world wars.

The Churchyard is also curcular establishing its claim to be an early Christian llan.

When I had gone around the church , I said a Rosary for many intentions and especially for our recusant priests, As I went on I felt colder and colder and was relieved to walk into the open sair as it was sunny outside!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


St Clether was one of the twenty our children of Brychan, along with Finbarr who also worked in Cornwall.This monastery was only a short way away from his sister';s at St Keyne.The hamlet where this was still situated is well worth a visit. The parish church itself was built in Norman times and the Vicarage obviously built after the Church was used by the Anglicans in the 16th century. The ancient well was rebuilt and repaired in Norman times and the well carefully conserved.

Firstly we went to visit the Norman age built church which leads over the fields for half a mile. St Clether is South of Bodmin.We drove up on a windy day, and there was much of interest in the church, which had had a refurbishment recently, and the piscina and stoup had been removed at some time. The area where St Clether had lived and worked among the people , healing, praying and clothing the naked, feeding the hungry was set well apart from the church, which is nearer the small road leading through the village. Clether seems to have established his monastic cell here on the river Inny. It is north of Altarnan, though not accessible through very wet weather as the road floods. It can be reached from the main Bodmin-Liskeard road, however.

The parish church is mediaeval, but very few original features remain and it has more in keeping with the 18th century charming rectory over the road.The Well at St Clether has a chapel, however which is more ancient than the church. It needs money at the moment for repairs, so anything you can send would help. St Clether designed his chapel well, so that the water from the well flowed beneath the altar of the church. At some point he went to live and died at St Cleer (possibly in old age and infirmity) and his relics were put beneath the altar over the running spring.
St Clether's Feast Day is on November 4th.

The well would have been sought for healing by many people and as the Normans did not demolish it and put up a church elsewhere, it was probably far more colourful in those early years, with wall paintings and such.Candles are available for lighting at St Clether's well, to ask for St Clether's help in prayer to the Father for healing.


The distance to get to the well, clearly marked by oak markers was too great a distance and I sent my husband to photograph the well and chapel. My knee has an injury at the moment. He returned quite excited. He had photographed the well and chapel and had snapped the inside of the chapel the minute he walked in. With his naked eye he could see nothing at all, yet on the digital camera screen he saw a white shape. Now he is sceptical of many things but the white shape, as you can see above was clearly visible, apparently 'fleeing' into the stones. Five seconds later he snapped again and it had gone. If you look carefully, you can see plainly that the window is lower than the white shape. He said he was not afraid, so perhaps the camera recorded an angel guarding the place,we did not know. But it would be great to hear any explanations?

The Well itself is slightly higher than the chuch, through which the spring flows.
It was certainly worth a visit and needs repair money so if you have a spare fiver...

Will post more on St Clethers when I have time.


There has been no informatin on here whereabouts, yet I absolutely have a hunch she will be found one day soon and will continue to pray for her and her family.


There is a Mary in Monmouth Page on Facebook .


Following the recent blog on this church and its connection to Lady Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and her son Cardinal Reginald Pole, both martyred for the Faith in Tudor times, I was contacted by some descendants of the Pole Family in Hampshire and we have become friends.They are still Catholic and help with the National Catholic Library in Farnborough. So that has been a blessing for me.