Thursday, August 26, 2010


A lovely retreat given at Belmonst Abbey meant a return trip for me to lovely Patrishow church.Following a first visit in 2008

The experience was very much in the tradition of the retreat 'Saints for Four Seasons'-a well attended and well appreciated and researched retreat in beautiful surroundings and excellent food.Unfortunately the weather was dreadful, with sheets of rain pouring down outside. The minibus designed to take us, via Llanfihangel Crucorney and Fforest Coal Pit chugged determinedly against the rain up the narrow road to the church, but unfortunately for all concerned the minibus broke down half way up the hill, when confronted with a vehicle coming the other way. Several of us got out into the pouring rain to lighten the load and were soaked climbing up. I climbed up with a lovely new friend and fellow holy well enthusiast, Hilary and her friend who encouraged me through the sheeting rain, running in runnels down the road.All I had in my pocket was my little plastic poncho from the Mynack theatre which I had hurriedly donned. From the knees down I was soaked and you just had to keep going up the extremely steep gradient. It was a very apt thing for my penance, to have to walk up such a hill with a severely arthritic knee! There was so much mist, you could not even see the Skirryd mountain!

Finally, after some time we reached a plateau-still in the pouring rain and I selected a little poem or two for us. Luckily the second minibus stopped to get us up the hill.(with thanks to Hilary for encouraging me on!)

Fragment of the Dispute between the Body and the soul

While we walk together, companion in glory
Be perfect in what you do.
Let us seek salvation
through faith, religion and creed.

Companions in faith, by the friendship of faith
Comes great and long penance daily;
Soul, when you ask me what my end shall be:
The grave or eternity.

and slightly more ironic

May this journey be easy
May it be a journey of profit in my hands!
Holy Christ against demons, against weapons, against killingss!

May Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit Sanctify us!
May the mysterious Gfod not hidden in darkness, may the bright King save us!

May the Cross of Christ's body and Mary guard us on the road!
May it not be unlucky for us, may it be successful and easy! Colmcille

The Trip to the Holy Well was a first, and local tradition has it that St Issui's murder may have been at the well, where the original hermitage may alsso have been.
There was a wonderful meditation and service with the monks up at the little chapel, where the poor and loving old man had lived and worked to bring the Kingdom of God and so cruelly murdered. (see link to irginal post above-you may have to c and p it into the browser.

The pilgrimage filled the little church with the wild wind and sheets of rain falling outside. Poetry from the Early British church, and 'Be thou my vision' was heartily sung and we were in good heart. The martyr's cell contains his altar and reputedly his relics and also a statue of the saint, beautifully kept.father Abbot, told us about the subject of the Martyrdom of St Issui and exclaimed at the beauty and peace of the little chapel, where you could sit and meditate and pray in silence, just as in the old British Church of the sixth century.

The Churchwarden told us about the project of the renovation of the little church, which had been an ecumenical effort, mainly by Catholics and non conformists, as only two farms exist near the church, which is beautifully kept.

Led by Father Brendan, in a moving way, with a voice not unlike Richard Burton's, prayers were said for the saint, Scripture readings, the 'Confiteor' and other readings annd poetry were read.then, lost in the awen of the poetry, we
we wandered , contented, around the buildings and I walked back down the steep hill to St Issui's well, which contained small twig crosses, candles, toys, but a crucifix and rosaries and silver bands.The church was known for healing and the grateful husband, whose leprous wife was cured by the stream left a bagful of gold by the stream in thanlks ffor the prayers of the saint in curing his wife. This was how the firsst church came to be built after the martyrdom of the holy man.

A kind friend managed to get some of the water, because the well was at a very odd angle. Nant Mair, the stream fromm which the well comme was rushing furiously down the mountain and producing more muddy water, but the rain and wind were wild and we could not stay long.Even Father Abbot's dogs were glad to be bacck in the car.

Finally we were back on the minibus and homeward bound, wet, freezing but laughing!
The company was good, the chatter on the minibus excellent and everyone content. What a lovely pilgrimage and afternoon, even if the Sun had wandered off and disappeared for the day leaving us with drenching lane! We certainly won't forget it. Thank you for the time we spent together.A week of beauty and truth.

More in the next few days about the subjects of the retreat, given by the Father Abbot and Father Brendan!