Tuesday, April 1, 2008
So who was Cadoc??? Gwynlliw's son. Another great Traveller!
St Cadoc's Church in the centre of the Roman Fort of Caerleon
St Cadoc was a native of Gwent, born in the early part of the sixth century, the son of Gwynllyw ap Glywys, a princeling of Gwent who founded St. Woolos Church in Newport.
St. Cadog the Wise was one of the greatest of the Welsh Saints. He was, as we have seen, the eldest son of King Gwynllyw Farfog (the Bearded) of Gwent. He was born at Gwynllwgat Bochriwcarn in Gelligaer, around 497, and baptised "Cadfael" by St. Tathyw where he was sent,at a young age, to be educated by this Irish saint at his monastery in Caerwent. Later, he left to become a wandering hermit in Penychen, the Kingdom of his uncle, Pawl(Paul). His presence was reported to the King by a swineherd whose pigs, Cadog had disturbed. King Pawl presented his nephew with the valley where these pigs fed, and here the young saint built his famous monastery of Llancarfan. Cadog stayed there for many years doing good works, but eventually he left for Ireland to study under Carthagh at Saighir in Eire fro three years..
Cadog eventually returned to Wales with several Irish followers, including his great friend, St. Finnian, They settled at Llanspyddid by Y-Gaer in Brecon (Brycheiniog)where Cadog learnt Latin from an Italian mentor named Bachan. While at Llanspyddid, a great famine raged in the countryside around, but the Welshman saved his followers from starvation by observing a mouse which led him to a secret grain store. Eventually, Cadog's maternal grandfather, King Brychan (Brecon)Brycheiniog, gave him the church at Llanspyddid and the saint left Brachan there as Abbot while he moved on to Llangadog in Dyfed.
Here he was constantly harassed by a local lord named Sawyl Penuchel (the Arrogant) One day, while Cadog was out tending to the needs of the poor, Sawyl and his men raided Llangadog and stole all provisions. Cadog had his revenge though. His monks pursued Sawyl's Warband, humiliated them by cutting off their hair while they slept and then enticed them into a marsh where they all drowned. St. Illtud, an officer of King Pawl of Penychen, was, similarly, converted to Christianity by Cadog when his men stole from the saint and were swallowed up by the earth! Obviously Cadog had a lot of his father’s inclinations.
Cadog soon decided it was time to return to his original foundation at Llancarfan. He found the monastery in ruins and the monks all gone; however, Finnian and his fellows worked hard to restore the holy place for their friend. At this time, the ageing King Gwynllyw passed away and Cadog became monarch of his father's domain. He soon inherited Penychen too. The saint, however, did not allow his secular responsibilities to interfere with his vocation as a Christian.
St. Gildas was made Abbot of Lancarfan for a short while, when he visited Cadog there. The King-Abbot wished to travel North to spread the word of Christ, so left Gildas in charge. The two saints retired to the Bristol Channel. Cadog to Ynys-Barren (Barry Island) and Gildas to Ynys-Echni (Flatholm), though they often met up together for prayers. Gildas eventually moved on to Ynys-Witrin (Glastonbury) and Cadog, along with some of his entourage, appear to have travelled to Brittany, probably to escape plague in Wales. They stopped off in Cerniw (Cornwall) on the way. Cadog visited his aunt, St. Keyne, on St. Michael's Mount and founded a chapel at Harlyn near Padstow. In Brittany, he settled on the Ile de St. Cadou in the Sea of Belz. While he was away, the Synod of Llandewi Brefi was held back in Wales, at which St. Dewi (David) was proclaimed Archbishop of Wales. Cadog was furious and relations with the monastics of Dyfed were soured from then on. While sojourning on the continent, Cadog made pilgrimages to both Rome and Jerusalem.
We have more details of time spent in Brittany. He settled there on an island in the Etel river, now called L'Ile de Cado, where he built an oratory, founded a monastery and devoted himself to spreading the Gospel.
This monastery became quite important, although this may have occurred after his time. According to legend, the island was invaded by some pirates who destroyed the monastery and Cadoc was forced to leave.
He had founded another small monastery at Barry , where he was a soul friend of the Irish Saint Barruc who had arrived there from Ireland on a white martyrdom. Cadoc’s small church was nearby and idyllic next to the sea looking out to the Island of Echni (Flat Holm) where many saints were buried and where there was said to be another monastic settlement. Islands were very holy places to the Celts and King Tewdrig wanted to be buried there, but died at Mathern (Merthyr Tewdrig) as we know. He had founded another small monastery at Barry , where he was a soul friend of the Irish Saint Barruc who had arrived there from Ireland on a white martyrdom. Cadoc’s small church was nearby and idyllic next to the sea looking out to the Island of Echni (Flat Holm) where many saints were buried and where there was said to be another monastic settlement. Islands were very holy places to the Celts and King Tewdrig wanted to be buried there, but died at Mathern (Merthyr Tewdrig) as we know.
Back in Wales once more, Cadog clashed with several of his fellow monarchs. As the country's High-King, Maelgwn of Gwynedd insisted on tribute from Gwynllwg and sent his officers to collect it. When these men kidnapped the daughter of Cadog's steward, however, they were pursued by the people of Gwynllwg and several were killed or injured. Maelgwn almost invaded Gwent as a result, but Cadog was able to curb his temper. The warband of Maelgwn's son, Rhun Hir (the Tall), once burnt down Cadog's dairy and the young King was obliged to plead for forgiveness and make appropriate compensation. When Cadog's ) uncle, Rhain Dremrudd (Red- Faced), became King of Brycheiniog, he immediately took to using his power by raiding nearby Kingdoms. Gwent suffered along with the rest, but the locals managed to capture King Rhain and would. have put him to death had his nephew not intervened.
Around AD 564, the ageing St. Cadog caught the wanderlust again and spent some time revisiting Ireland. He later returned to Llancarfan, but quickly handed the monastery over to his disciple, Enlli. He then left for Beneventum, which is probably to be identified with Bannaventa (Weedon) in Northamptonshire (Calchfynedd) on the very edge of Saxon territory. Here he was elected Abbot of a large body of monks. The city was in ruins, but Cadog inspired the inhabitants to set about rebuilding it. In thanks, they created him their first Bishop. On 24th January AD 580, however, the place was invaded (by Saxons ) and Cadog was run through with a spear and martyred in his own church. For many years the invaders would not let the British claim his body, but eventually he was transferred to Llancarfan where he now lies buried. His memorial may have found its way to Llandefaelog Fach, where a now lost stone was once to be seen inscribed with the name "Catvc". Having no heirs, Cadog had made arrangements for his Kingdoms to be left to King Meurig of Gwent, the husband of his young aunt.
He was martyred there at the hands of the Saxons, and his relics were transferred to Llancarfan. The most important source of information is the Life of Cadog written by Lifris about 1100, which is the longest and most significant of the Welsh Lives. This is underlined by the fact that Lifris was abbot of Llancarfan. In addition reference is made to Cadoc in the Life of St. Samson, written early in the eighth century, and in the Life of St. Gildas, written in the tenth century. He also figures in the Life of St Tathan and the Life of Gwynlliw in the Collection of the Lives of the Cambro British Saints (avail Amazon ) Although the Lives contain the numerous portents and miraculous happenings of the early Medieval tradition which were considered a necessary element in the accounts of the saints, it is clear that much of the material reflects genuine traditions. In Wales there are at least fifteen dedications to the saint apart from Llancarfan. Some occur close to his monastery in the Vale of Glamorgan, like Llanmaes and Pendoylon. The greatest number are found in Gwent, obviously linked to his possible birthplace, but spread as far as Gower in the west and Llangattock in Powys in the north. Here are some of the ancent ones.
St Cadoc’s Church in Caerleon, and St Cadoc’s Hospital. This foundation obviously is the best known. Caerleon was where Gwynlliw and Gwladys would have lived before their conversion and where they were visited by Tathan. So it is likely Cadog may have been born here. The ancient foundations of the monastery were within the boundaries of the fort, unlike the Church of Julius Julianus and Aaron, bot outside the fort.This Church was originally built over the Temple of Jupiter in the centre of the town.
Llan gattock ibon avel
St Cadoc’s, Trevethin, Pontypool.
Llan gattock near Usk
There are also dedications commemorating his work in Scotland at Renfrewshire at Newton Mearns, and at Cornwall.
It is worthwhile remembering all such early foundations were also dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A Prayer of St Cadoc
‘Persevere as ye have begun, that ye may be crowned when ye are about to have a crown; be therefore crowned. Do not ye see that the day of this world is passing away and that the powerful men are discouraged as if they had never been comforted? What is secular power with regard to true blessedness but the greatest delusion?’ they are deluded who love such things. They live for today not being about to live for the morrow.What unhappiness and how great their misery if they lose heavenly things in darkness! Furture inhabitants of heaven, ye will not lose the joys of the heavenly country, and being just ye will be on the right side. Ye may recollect mention o the saying of the supreme judge, who wil deliver the sentence on those who are judged ‘Come ye blessed children of my father, receive the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world!’
Moving words that are just as breathtakingly relevant today as then! From the sixth century to today!
The Wisdom of St Cadoc
Without knowledge, no God.
No man is the son of knowledge if he is not also the son of poetry.
The best of attitudes is humility;
the best of occupations, work;
the best of sentiments, pity;
the best of cares, justice;
the best of pains, that which a man takes to make peace;
the best of sorrows, sorrow for sin;
the best of characters, generosity.
Truth is the elder daughter of God.
No man loves poetry without
loving the light,
nor light without truth,
nor truth without loving God.
The best of patriots is the man who tills the soil.
No man is pious who is not cheerful.
There is no king like him who is king of himself.
Loving is Heaven; hatred is Hell.
Conscience is the eye of God in the soul of man