Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Holy Place of St Cadoc and the Sons of Abel,.Llangattock Vibon Afel

Those of you who have heard my podcasts about one of Monmouthshire's most important saint in recent times, will have heard that he and St Samson of Dol during Cadoc's time in Brittany (Armorica) planted miles of apple trees, which they felt was healthy for their monasteries and people. They grew easily, they provided apple juice and cider and fruit for pies. They also attracted bees, important for Mass candles.

 Cadoc's enthusiasm for the apple made him the French patron saint of Apples and apple growing.
It is possible and  fun to find this small monastery of Cadoc called more authentically the monastic enclosure of Cadog and the Sons of Abel, but also possibly called cadoc and the Sons of the Apple (Llangadog Feibion afalau). Compare the place where Arthur went 'Avalon' 'Afalon' as an 'f' is pronounced 'v' in Welsh.Island of apples.


This little church, which needs a bot of persistance to get to lies just beyond Llangattock farm, if you take the Rockfield Road from Monmouth signposted from the main road and turn right at the first major fork to Llangattock.

Stunning Monastery site and View

I was unprepared for the beauty of yet another stunning church. We had driven past it several times before we found the farm called Llangattock farm and drove down to the bottom of a stone track, where the car park for the church was with its characteristic round churchyard. A dingle surrounded it and the well had been restored. Unfortunately once again it was closed, but the building itself was fascinating, some Saxon features and Norman but also heavily restored in the Victorian style inside, we were told by two worshippers who were tending a grave in the graveyard. The tower actually also contained the porch and a small mediaeval door (also locked)led up to the tower, which seemed to be a bell tower. We were told that the church was on the former estate of Lord Rolls (of the Rolls Royce engine!Lord Rolls is said to have loved this church and spent a great deal of money restoring it at the time of the Oxford Movement of John Henry Newman (not Cardinal and soon Blessed Henry Newman!)I obtained the Vicar's telephone number and will try to get access.

Monastery in Celtic Times

I love the slightly humorous name of this place. It is like a time capsule. On the day we visited, during the May bank holiday the birds were siging away and the whole church almost hidden by a cloak of trees and a dingle on each side with a stream running down. When you walked into the round churchyard the most spectaular view will meet your eyes. The Sugarloaf mountain (named after the Siwgariu (Shew-gari) tribe who used to live there! Field upon field spread out below to the magnificent gold course at Hendre with its manicured lawms, the fields coming to fruition and others with sheep and cattle in the distance. You could see almost to the Severn in the great distance. What a paradise this monastic settlement was, and I imagine the few houses and farm above had probably been on the sites of other buildings which had been there in Cadoc's time, although there was a school above. Remember, though you must go in at the farm entrance. At the restored Lychgate below you can read the inscription on the photo.St Cadoc's well is also to be found at the North East of the church, where anattempt has been made to catch the water in a large stone sink structure.


Near Llangattock is a large stone house on the way to the village of Newcastle nearby. As its name suggests, Franciscan Friars originally would have had a site nearby. These friars being mendicant however travelled around a good deal, but they must have been there a good while to give their name to the house which stands there now.

Other Saint Cadoc Dedications...

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 Gwentobviously linked to his possible birthplace, but spread as far as Gower in the west and Llangattock in Powys in the north.They may indicate the extent of his missionary activities, but more likely it was his disciples and later monks of Llancarfan who spread his cult and founded churches dedicated to their founding saint.

In Brittany-Isle de St Cado

On the third Sunday of September a major Pardon is held on the Isle of St. Cado, according well with the celebration of Cadoc's feast in Cardiff on 25th September. Elsewhere his traditional feast day is January 24th.


Under there... said...

Stunning photographs! Beautiful post.

Mary in Monmouth said...

Thank you, Under There. Glad you enjoyed it-I remember well the beautiful sunny afternoon I took the photos. It was so quiet up there all you could literally hear was the running brook, the insects and the trees. The site was quite hard to find down the small trak to a farm, but sooo quiet.

I have also had another translation about Cadoc-that Avel is from 'Abel' of Cain and Abel in the Bible-in Welsh I think Afal is 'apple'though , and given Cadoc's history -that is likelier. Tahnk you for being so encouraging. Please join the MaryinMonmouth Group on Facebook if you'd like to keep in touch.