Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mamhilad, its origins and the Miracle of St Cadoc

Spring is here!

Illtyd’s Time at the monastery at Mamhilad

Lastly he travelled on and halfway between Trevethin and Usk, he joined another small monastic community and greatly impressed them with his learning there, and taught them a great deal from his amazing memory. He taught the monks there all his superior studies and this monastery became one of the most important and greatest in learning in Gwent. Today a church remains there and a pub with a few scattered farms. That important monastery was later to be called St Illtyd’s after the impression he made. The monastery was situated at Mamhilad, and still remains very isolated.

St Cadoc and the Mamhilad Miracle

In fact, Mamhilad is mentioned in the Book of Cambro British Saints and this is connected with Cadoc and appears in the Life of St Cadoc. ‘After the departure of the most gracious Cadoc from transitory to eternal things, a certain, very powerful English King called Eilaf came to the country of Glamorgan with a large companyof dependents for the purpose of plundering and destroying; and the clergy of the celebrated having heard an account of his impiety , fled from Llancarvan with the coffin of the holy man and other relics , bearing their means of their protection ,until they came to the place Mamhilad (Mamheliat) and there they hid themselves. When they had been there a short time a multitude of Danish and English Robbers came to them; who beholding the coffin, sought to take it with them, and nearly a hundred of them tried to lift it but could not .

Then they became very angry and one more mad than the others ran forward quickly and taking a stout stick struck it ; and on being struck it produced a loud bellowing noise like a bull and greatly frightened the whole army and immediately there was an earthquake in those parts.

The coffin, at length being left by them , one more unhappy than the others, being induced by greediness cut off its golden pinnacle with a hatchet, which fell into his lap and and immediately, like fire, burned his bosom; and stupefied and excited by the pain of heat, he resolved to fit the pinnacle back in place, and being so fixed it firmly adhered , as it it had been united by gold soldering. This being done, the unhappy violator of the coffin melted in the sight of the whole army, like wax before the fire. This having been seen by them, and being affected by fear on account of these things, they returned as exiles. Afterwards, they had not desire for plundering any of the aforesaid places of the patron, and ceased to lay waste to his territories.’

St Cadoc's Remains were taken to Llandaff

We don’t know when the remains of St Cadoc were taken to Llandaff, but it was probably during the Norman period when Bishop Urban tried to bring back all the relics of the Holy Saints of Wales to St Teilo’s Abbey in Llandaff. This Bishop caused Dyfrig’s body to be brought back and so it is probably also the case with the others like St Cadoc-possibly for safe keeping in the new stone built Abbey which afforded more protection. The monastic settlement at Mamhilad itself was, as I mentioned dedicated to St Illtyd and remained so after the miracle of St Cadoc’s coffin. We know the Welsh holy men moved around their foundations and Abbeys and remember that it may have been Illtyd’s suggestion to go and take the holy coffin to this important monastic settlement. Cadoc was Illtyd’s beloved teacher and it could well be that the coffin and other relics were taken from Nantcarvan to Mamhilad at his request. The association of this monastery with both Cadoc and Illtyd shows the importance of this institution in these times. Close by towards Pontypool we have the Church of Trevethin which comes from the 11th century in its present form. The Church of this Holy Treddin’s monastic settlement near Pontypool was later dedicated to St Cadoc in honour of the miracle at Mamhilad. It remains dedicated to him to this day.

The picture above shows one of the ancient yews of Gwent. There is a link on the LHS to a website about this tree in che churchyard at Mamhilad. This is now in the care of the Anglican Communion.

No comments: