Monday, June 30, 2008

The famous Welsh Croesnawdd-Cross of Protection and other relics

St Beuno's body was coveted by three communities, Clynnog, Nevin and Bardsey (Ynys Enlli-(Unnuss enthlee)The name 'Ynys yr Arch in the parish of Clynnog is suposd to preserve a thrilling incident in the course of this memorable controversy. The Legend ran that as the saint's body was being carried to burial, the porcession halted at this spot, while a sharp contention arose about its ultimate destination. Such was the posture of affairs when the dispute was solved to everyone's satisfation. The hearers having fallen asleep awoke to find three coffins resembling each other in every respect. Clynnog secured the true one ! (Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement p 34) However, the sma etale is told of St Teilo you will remember.
Usually the saint would be buried and then at some point disinterred and if the body has decayed various bones were taken in special rituals and shared out amongst the churches.These were not worshipped in anyway, just venerated, bringing the saint closer to the people worshipping God.

The CroesnawddThe Famous Welsh Cross ofProtection

This holy cross , which was said to contain a portion of the True Cross was adorned with gold and precious stones and was always solomnly borne before the Prince of Wales as a palladuim of eternal salvation. After the death of the last native Prince of Wales, Llewellyn the Great, this precious relic was tken by Edward I to Westminster, after which it disappeared and no trace can be found.

The Relics of St David

In the Black Book of St David's(14th century) we read that a certain class of tenants in time of war'are bound to follow the Lord Bishop with the shrine of the Blessed David and with the relics; and entries in the Black Bookshow the great veneration paid to the relics of the great Saint Dewi.

Swearing an agreement

One of the oldest of Welsh legal terms, cynghrair -ie a covenant or agreement made on oath-means an agreement sworn over a relic (crair)

Felindre the name for a Welsh Slave Village

One passage from the Dimetian code pf the Welsh Laws is of exceptional interest as an illustration of the steady influence of the church on the side of freedom and progress. It must be pointed out, that there was in the Welsh tribes, a class of serfs, or villeins as the Saxons would call them, probably the descendents of the conquered Iberians.(Celts living in Spain and Portugal) These men lived in separate hamlets on the borders of the tribal settlements.

The word Felindre is a very common place-name in some parts of Wales even to the present day and is a survival of the old serf village-(dre-f or Tre-) is the name for a serf-slave)

Law of Serfdom and Slavery

THe passage referred to deals with the class of persons wose privileges increase in one day, and among them is the serf-slave or villein:

The first, is where a church is consecrated in a serf village, any man of that village who might be a serf in the morning becomes on that night a free man.

A second passage in the same Code of Dyfed gives it a slightly different form:
If a church be built within a serf village (taeogtref)and there be a priest offering Mass in it,and it be a burying place, such a 'tref' is free from thenceforward.

Sacrament of Confirmation

'At the end of seven years, he-the young tribesman- is to swear for his acts, for then he shall come under the hand of his Confessor, and shall take the duty of God unto himslef(Book 2 Laws of Hywel Dda-Venedotian Code)

Devout Catholic Orthodoxy of the Welsh People in Mediaeval Times

The greatest literary figure in Mediaeval Wales is Gerald the Welshman, Giralds Cambrensis-the 'father of popular literature'as Green the historian calls him. He was a most voluminous writer, and in spite of his vanity and failings as a historical critic. his works are of the greatest value for the light they throw on the religious condition of the area known as Wales.

His writings are so well known that we need not linger over his testimony. Both in his Welsh Itinary and Description of Wales he speaks very highly of the orthodoxy and devout nature of the Welsh peoples., though he is candid and outspoken about some of their failings too. In Ad 1188 he accompanied Bishop Baldwin on his crusading tour of Wales, the outstanding feature of which was that the English Archbishop celebrated Mass each of the four Welsh Cathedrals. His experience during this memorable tour enabled Gerald to see Wales and Welsh life and customs from the inside. In fact his Itinary may be justly considered the first comprehensive account of the religious condition of the Old Cymry (Welsh).

Abbot John of Whitland (Ty Gwyn ar Daf) and Abbot Seisyllt of Strata Florida (Cistercian monasteries in West Wales-Menevia)accompanied the Archbishop and all his party as guides and interpreters. Gerald speaks very highly of the religious faith and devotion of the Welsh people and of their profound reverence for the church and the priesthood.

HE refers to many points of similarity as regards ecclesiastical customs between the Welsh and Irish of that period-eg. repect for croziers, torques, trumpets and books and the use of saints bells as relics.'Nothing', he says 'contrary to the true Faith is to be found among the natives'. It is said that some parts of the ancient doctrines are retained here. They give the first piece broken off from every loaf of bread to the poor; they sit down to dinner by three to a dish in honour of the Trinity.

With stretched out arms and bowed head, they ask a blessing of every monk or priest, or of any person wearing a religious habit. But they desire above all other nations the Bishop's Confirmation and chrism, by which the Grace of the Spirit is given. They give a tenth of all their property , either when they marry or go on pilgrimage, or when, by the counsel of the Church, they are persuaded to amend their lives . But of all the pilgrimages they prefer to go to Rome, where they pay the most fervent veneration to the Apostolic See.'

We observe that they show a greater respect than other nations to churches and ecclesiastical persons; to the relics of the saints, bells, holy gospels and the Cross , which they devoutly revere; and hence their churches enjoy more than common tranquillity.

Pilgrimages to Rome

We know from the writings of contemporary bards and other sources that pilgrimages to Rome were immensely popular among the Welsh people. (Brut y Tywysogion 12,40,44, 364)In fact, on the occasion of Gerald's second visit to Rome to plead for the Welsh independence of St David's in Menevia, there were crods of pilgrims from Wales in the Holy City-'multi peregrini de Wallia'-who came forward with patriotic eagerness , prepared to hear testimony in his favour. (This was for a separate Archbishop for Wales)

The Welsh bards are our witnesses that Rome exerted an extraordinary fascination for the Welsh mind. A pilgrimage to Rome was a must for every Welsh saint and found a way into his life story.

Cynddelw- a patriotic and distinguished Welsh bard-speaks enthusiastically of the sights of Rome:

Caer Rhufain, ryfedd olygawdd!
Caer uchaf uchel ei defawd!

I will write later about pilgrimages and about Gerald the welshman and his trip through Monmouthshire. He called in at Llanthony, Abergavenny, Usk Caerleon and Newport before going on to Cardiff.

Arrest of Ulrich Schultz known as Oliver Shanti

The arrest of this man on Saturday, brought to a close a seven year search for this German Paedophile on the run in Portugal and undetected in 7 years with a £3,000 bounty on his head because of allegations of more than 1000 crimese also seems to be connected with a business site for adoption of orphans from Kazakstan. German police arrested him in Lisbon on Saturday and all are hoping that this will be the close os a possibly child trafficking. He also may possibly know of the whereabouts of Madeleine Mc Cann and other Portuguese missing Chidren-like Yeremi Vargas.Let's hope this is a breakthrough!

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