Monday, April 14, 2008

Saints of Newport-Children of Gwynlliw-St Maches of LLANVACHES St Cynydir, St Bugi

This beautiful stained glass window is to be found in St Dubricius (Dyfrig's)Church at Llanvaches (The-Holy-Place-of Maches) Curiously earlier known as Merthyr Maches.This Church is not dedicated to Maches, because it was actually founded by St Tatheus is memory of her. It is to be found north of the A40 road going from Newport to Chepstow.Interestingly, the tower also contains a beehive.The presnt Church is Norman, but is now quite plain, although very ancient. Nearby is the oldest non-conformist Chapel anywhere, actually on the Chepstow Road, near the turn off to Llanvaches. The pastor of this church was a former Vicar of Llanfaches church who had left because of his doctrinal differences. He had, however stripped all sacramentals of Catholic interest out of the church which have left it quite plain. Its antiquity is undeniable, however, and the stained glass window showing St Maches very beautiful.
I was told bypeople in the church, who were preparing it for a wedding, that Maches was actually killed a bit further away under a tree commemorating the murder near the village pub. Testained glass window of Maches is to be found in the church of her father, St Gwynlliw (Woolos the Warrier) in Newport, and the image next to her is of Gwynlliw Farfog (Gwynlliw the Bearded) the pirate himself. The other images are of the altar (a) and nave(b) to the tower of St Dubricius Church, Llanvaches.The Latin form of her name is 'Machuta'


Gwaldys, saintly daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog after which Brecon is named.She was married to Gwynlliw the Pirate.They soon had a son, the famous Saint Cadoc the Wise. To celebrate his son's birth Gwynllyw went on another raid stealing cattle from Tatheus at Caerwent. When Saint Tatheus came courageously to demand the return of a cow, the King was so impressed he decided in return to send his son to Tathyw at Caerwent to be educated. Gwynllyw supposedly had other children also saints Cynidr,Maches, Bugi and Egwine.

We have heard about Gwynlliw and Gwladys and there was a whole podcast about St Tatheus (Tathwyn) of Caerwent, the famous Irish educator, and grandson of King Meurig of Gwent, King Tewdrig's son and benefactor of Caerwent College. He was succeeded by Maegwyn educated at Caerleon. When her brother was so impressed with Tatheus and begged to go back to the monastery with him, they often all talked about the things which Tatheus had told them. They were told about the Scriptures, the Apostles and Church and the Holy Wafer, which would bring them Christ, also how St Peter had organised the church, according to Christ's instruction. Even then there were severe fines for dropping the Eucharist on the floor. Maches was obverjoyed to hear the Good News -that Life is unending, death is not an end, but a beginning. She began to yearn , like her mother for the ife of a religious, or hermit. It was decided she was as yet too young and shoulod study when she came of age. In recompense Tatheus gave her a small farm near Caerwent, where she could study and pray and look after the sheep as well.She tended some of the beasts of particularly a valuable three year old ram.While she kept te sheep and lived tranquilly and in a most holy way. However two brothers who were thieves arrived in her little settlement. This was in the area of what is now the small hamlet of Llanvachesa small hamlet just north of the pub in Llanvaches, north ofthe A4 from Newport to Chepstow. Maches the young giel was dragged protesting in the forest and they decided to silence her, rather than let her talk. They bent her over and beheaded her. They also killed the stolen ram and took it home. The sheep wandered back to Caerwent by themselves and st Tathwyn was worried because the flock hed returend without her.He and Cadoc her brother grieved tremendously with Cadoc and Gwynlliw and Gwladys and prayed for help.
On the first night, they wondered what hade become of her, when she did not visit her parents. The two murderers became wracked with remorse and came to the monastery to do confession. They found the church and Tatheus said they should confess their sin for fear of their immortal souls and do penance. A search party including Tatheus found the body of the martyred girl. .A churh was built on the site near her martyrdom and although she is commemorated inside, the dedication is to their bishop, St Dyfrig -Dubricius. Maches was carried back to Caerwent to be buried. to the great grief of parents and the court.A sad story this. The sorrowing Tatheus, who blamed himself had her body brought back to Caerwent, where she was buried and where she bacame a saint because she was a martyr. Her relics are still at St Stephen's Church in Caerwent.
Maches is aommemorated i beautiful stained glass windows at St Woolos (Gwynlliw's) cathedral in Newport. All mourned beautiful Maches whose life had been 'snuffed out' at a vary early age and wom Gd ad taken to be one of his own.

CYNYDIR a son of Gwynlliw.

Although Cynidir no longer has a church dedicated to him in Herefordshire, Kenderchurch preserves his name (the church here is now dedicated to St Mary). Cynidir, like Clydawg, was the grandson of the King of Brycheiniog and founded several churches in Breconshire, including Glasbury, where he was buried.
P340 Married Goleu daughter of Brychan for wife.

Cynidir established a hermitage on an island in the river Wye near Winforton (only 9 miles down river from Glasbury). In 1675 Blount wrote that 'Walter, a Canon of Wormsley Priory, betook himself to an Life of a hermit in a little island on upon the river Wey (sic)... wherein he built a Chappel (sic) dedicated deo beatae Mariae, beato Kenedro - .
Vita Cadoci

Dispute between Saint Cadoc and King Arthur

All assembled when the sone of Elliman offended king Arthrwys and took sanctuary with Cadoc who did not fear Arthwys-He thought 'Fear not those who kill the body as they canot hkill the soul'. Cadoc hid the sons for seven years in Gwent. They were then betrayed to King Arthur by someone and Arthur came o the River Usk with a large force with the idea of laying a legal claim because he did not dare to violate the sanctuary of Cadoc. St David, St Teilo and St Oudoceus agreed to be judges, and Cynydir a Son or grandson of Brychan and brother of Cadoc met together on the banks of the Usk. They disputed for a time and then the judges agreed that Arthur should receive 3 oxen for every one of this three dead men-others fixed that one hundred cows should be given and Arthur would only accept those with a certain colouring. A miracle occurred when they magically turned into the correct colours. When Bedwr and Kai tried to drive them through the water thaey became ferns and the village became known as the Town of Ferns Trefredinauc, possibly Tredunnock, which also contains the relics of St Julian. Cynydir seems to have formed a monastery on the Wye and near Brecon, probably because he was close to his mother's family and the land there much more beautiful and remote (see location above)


There is little about Egwine. He either became a warrior and looked after the Kingdom for his father and brother, as we have no special details about him, perhaps he did not embrace a saintly career.He may, however, as a younger son have simply joined his brother's monastery. There are no records of a marriage.


Bugi, another son of Gwynlliw was also obviously grandson of Brychan and was offered land on which to live in Powys. He married Beren, daughter of Llawden. The records said they lived quietly and were inoffensive to all and their lives were virtuous, They kept the commandments of God in all ways as far as they were able and no one ever accused them of anything. They had no son to be their heir and were in their forties and they no longer had relations, as they had passed the greater part of their lives. One evening they were sitting and talking when an angel came and told them they would have a son if they slept together.He said 'Be merry and joyful for God has heard your prayer. The angel said ' tonight your wife will become with child if you sleep with her and from that pregnancy a son will be born to thee and he will be honourable with respect to God and man'. Indeed nine months later a child was born to them. He was baptised locally and the Child's name was Beino-also a child who became a great saint. When Beuno was old enough, they sent him to Tatheus school at Caerwent, although Tatheus had died by then and was replaced by Tangusius, a former scribe and great teacher at Caerleon College.He learned the Holy Scripture and the Sacraments and the Rules of the Church(Canon Law). St Beino grew up, albeit moved to North Wales.Beuno was important in the Life of St Winefriede of Wales. near Holywell in Fflint.Since St Winifride's (Gwenfrewi)Well (Holy-well) was a major place of pilgrimage fro people all over Wales (and later by Saxons, because the Benedictines of Shrewsbury removed some of her remains from Gwytherin to Shrewsbury Abbey-see the ITV series of 'Cadfael'-A Morbid Case for Bones) I will deal with her a bit later on.During the times of persecution even in the sixteenth century the money collected at St Winefrides was so plentiful, Henry's Commissioners left it alone, and it is one of the few mediaeval pilgrimage sites left in Britain. It is still, with Our Lady of the Taper in Cardigan, and possibly now Our LAdy St Mary of Tintern one of the three important shrines in Wales

It is said that Ynyr Gwent himself, in his old age, granted Beuno lands in Ewyas (North Gwent) and that Ynyr became his disciple. This is now Llanfeuno, a chapelry under Clodock, near Longtown in Herefordshire. Whilst there, Beuno heard that his father,Bugi, was ill so he committed his foundation in Ewyas to three of his disciples, and hurried back to Powys, where, "his father, after receiving the Eucharist, making his confession and rendering his end perfect, departed this life." Beuno made founded a monastery there and planted an acorn by his father's grave. It grew into a mighty tree of which one branch curved down to the ground and then rose again "and there was a part of this branch in the soil, as at present; and if an Englishman should pass between this branch and the trunk of the tree, he would immediately die; but should a Welshman go, he would in no way suffer."(Life of St Beino)
All photographs are by Christopher Tottle, Photograqpher with permission.
The Church of Llangynydir is to be found near the Talybont Reservoir in South Breconshire, and area still named for Brychan Brycheiniog, Bugi, Egwine, Cynydir, Maches and Cadoc's grandfather through Gwladys (Latin Claudia) their mother.

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