Sunday, June 29, 2008

St Peter's and St Paul's Day, and the Catholic Basis for Welsh Law


St Peter and Saint Paul

Today we remember the two foremost Apostles in the Church. St Peter to whom the keys of heaven were given. He was the strong upright fisherman, vulnerable, lacking in courage at times, but remaining true to Christ and recognising that Christ had the words of eternal Life. Of course Peter denied Christ and showed all the fear and vulnerability of human beings such as us in the traumatic tme after the Crucifixion. However, he was convinced of Christs Divinity-had seen him light up like a fibreoptic angel on the mountain with Elijah and Moses and after Pentecost, was, like the other apostles filled with strength to go out openly and fearlessly and preach the Gospel and celebrate the Eucharist-the Apostles recognised him in the breaking of the Bread. Peter, strong and loyal, who watched his family go to their deaths in the persecution. Peter, the friend of Princess Eurgain of Gwent, known as Claudia Rufina and her husband Pudens and brother Linus. Faithful to the end.

You are Peter and upon this rock I will beuild my church. Whatever you bindon earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose upon earth will be loosed in heaven, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Well the agents of Hell are outside the Kingdom now. They are the losers.

St Paul was zealous, energetic and full of the fire of the Holy Spirit to save souls. In the Bible it says that when Our Lord Spoke to the multitudes he spoke in parables, but would explain more closely and in greater detail when alone with his apostles. No doubt this teaching was conveyed to him during his formation and through him (I think our Lord chose him because of his education as well) these closer teachings were laid out in the letters to the various churches.Nevertheless both men were great saints of the Church.


We are so lucky to have this privilege , so lucky to have eternal life as we hope on his promise. I have always loved the St Patricks Breastplate - a spiritual armour that we put on to keep at bay all those evil influences which cause ruination of souls. The Morning Offering of the day's sorrows and joys. And the doxology

Christ be with me
Christ within me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ with me waking
Christ with me walking
Christ with me sleeping
Christ in every heart thinking of me
Christ in every tongue speaking to me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three!

I try to repeat this to yself at least once a day in the morning and when I am tired or tempted. The Invocation to the Trinity is the strongest there is.

The Laws of Old Gwent

The Ancient Laws of Wales were drawn up by Hywel Dda in the tenth century. Of these laws there are three codes-Venedotian, the Gwentian and the Dimetian, which represent the three divisions of Wales into Gwynedd, Gwent and Dyfed. No literary document can compare with the Leges Walliae as a source of authentic information of the social and religious life of the old Cymry from early times to the Edwardian Conquest, while they were in force.We have here a faithful picture of the domestic life and religious customes of the Welsh people up to the period of the statutes of Rhuddlan in 1284.

Hywel Dda goes to Rome to study

Hywel Dda went to Rome to study the Justinian code and to secure papal confirmation for his own code. According to these Laws the Church,with its various institutions, was an organis part of Welsh tribal society, and indeed as we have seen in thses posts, great prominence was given to the work and status of the monastic orders.

Here we have the primitive use of crefydd and crefyddwr. Gwr wrth grefydd was a man under monastic vows and clearly distinguised him from the secular priests-dyn eglwysig wrth urddau cyssegredig. when we reflect that these laws are not formal theological treatise, but a dry code of tribal jurisprudence, it is remarkable how full and explicit is the evidence to the Catholic Character of early Cymric (Welsh) Society.

Papal confirmation was sought lest by any means the Welsh tribal code should conflict with the law of the Church.
In the text itself , the authority of the Pope is clearly recognised. Dr Robert Owen, and Anglican minister, admits in his book ;The Kymry'that 'the Welsh custom of consecrating bishops on the Feast of St Peter's Chair (Feb 22)seems to imply a regognition of Roman primacy.

In the King;s Court and the the Tribal Law Court , the priest (effeirat) plays a leading part. He was a kind of Secretary of State and Chancellor. The Cymric tribes had their 'men of religion' under monastic vows , they had their periglawr or father confessor, soul friend, fasting, confession, penance and veneration of saints, Extreme Unction and the observance of Holy Days- all carefully and systematically arranged for in everyday life of tribal society as normal matters of daily obligation in a Catholic Community.

Although the Laws are naturally preoccupied with matters pertaining to domestic life of the Welsh tribes , the spiritual connection in Rome -remarkably close. We are tolde.g. that for certain specified crimes there was no pardon exept by a direct appeal to the Pope.

On of the 'three indispensables'of a Welsh Prince, was a priest to bless his food and to sing Mass-canu efferen.

When a new judge was appointed for the tribal courts, the Chieftain's Periglawr or chaplain was to take him to church to hear Mass . After that, the judge had to swear by the relics and the altar not to deliver a wrong judgement.Some idea of the solomn character that attatched to the Holy Eucharist in tribal times may be gathered from a curious bit of folk lore referred to in the Gwentian Code.

On the subject of beeswax, which was indispenssble for singing Mass, it it stated:

'The origin of the bees is from Paradise, and on account of the sin of manthey come from thence ;and God conferred this blessing on them, and Mass cannot be sung without the beeswax.(Book 2 Ch 27)'

We find from the Black Book of St David's(Introduction 102)that come tanants paid their rent in beeswax. Folk lor of this kind, like moss on a stone only gathers aound things long established and deeply rooted.

Relics essential to the Kymry

A marked feature of their religious life is the respect paid to relics-creiriau. I have spoken about relics in detail in the podcast on relics and the legend of St Teilo's skull. In the religion and in the legal system of the tribe, they play and indispendable part. Nawdd y creiriau is frequently mentioned and means the protection afforded by relics.

Gerald the Welshman (Geraldus Cambrensis) complains that the Welsh people in taking their oath, showed greater reverence for the relics of the saints than they did for the holy gospels themselves!

Searing on relics was the regular mode of procedure in the law courts of the tribe. (Venedotian Code Book 2 Ch 10) The litigant had to swear at the church where his sacramental bread and holy water shall be -'bara efferen ay dwyfyr swyn'.

Book of Llandaff

In the Liber Landevensis there are references tothe custom of swearing on the relics of St Teilo.

Even at the time of the annexation to England the respect paid to relics is well illustrated by a letter of Edward I written in 1281 . It refers to the relics of St Asaph the Pupil of St Kentigern (Mungo), the original founder of that Civitas. The King proposed that the relics should be taken from the cathedral to Rhuddlan for the sake of safety.

To be continued Edward Hirsch Davies (Catholicism in Mediaeval Wales)

Interesting Developments in the search for Madeleine McCann

Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of Madeline, who is now 5 and was snatched a year ago from Pria di Luz in Portugal have been told of ‘several’ potential new sightings.It has widened and deepened the private investigations of the private detectives hired by the parents who are leaving no stone unturned to find their daughter.Clarence Mitchell said on Saturday that Madeleine's parents are hopeful that a breakthrough is near.Following the documentary at the anniversary of the child's disappearance, there were many calls, which are being followed up speedily.These clues are new information, potential sightings but Clarence Mitchell their spokesman intiguingly said he could divulge no further information or details.

The Parents' Private Investigation

The privately funded investigation by Methodo 3 has become ‘wider and much more sophisticated’ according to Clarence Mitchell and the family.Other agencies are helping Methodo 3 from around the world.The parents hope their arguido status (suspect) will be lifted soon.

Next month, the police files will have to be made public under law and this could signal an end to their arguido status. Clarence Mitchell said the McCann's are convinced their daughter is staill alive and being held somewhere.There had been no evidence whatever she had been hurt or killed.

Let us hope a breakthrough could be near!

Please Pray for Burma,
All Mussing Children including Madeleine
Mary and Pat and my father .Thanks folks.!

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