Thursday, December 14, 2023



PILGRIMAGE on the Hereford Border. Excellent pictures, but there is a "Bring your own beliefs "policy from the Trust- not especially Catholic unless you bring a priest and your beads.  Nevertheless it advertises a number of  ancient Catholic Sites. St Issui's Well and Church at Patrishow (Pater Issui-Fr Esau the Martyr) Llanthony Priory, Craswell Priory,St Mary's Church, and Cwmyoy Church,mostly medieval buildings or ruins. Pictures of the amazing medieval rood screen at Patrishow (off the road to Hereford from Abergavenny. Click on the link for the pictures. The countryside is simply stunning and there is accommodation at Llanthony. 

At Capel y Ffin, up the hill from the ancient Church is the ancient site of Father Ignatius' Lyne's monastery and statue of BVM, which was claimed there in the 19th century. There is documentation for this and another "sighting" by a Norman lady back in the eleventh century, which led to St Marys Church church being built.(now Anglican) This is the site of an annual pilgrimage. This is however, private land, so it is essential to ask permission from the owners, or by perhaps (better) contacting them in advance. They do, I believe rent out holiday self catering accommodation, but you would need to check, if you require it. I believe the owners also have horseriding buisiness.

The Trust also have a couple of jobs available.                                                 mc_cid=8379b5e8cc&mc_eid=b79526752c

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Gunter House at Abergavenny with its Secret Catholic Chapel. Fundraising group to restore and tell the story of this remarkable House. From the South Wales Argus

The Welsh Georgian Trust has been in negotiations with a Monmouth-based company to buy the Grade II*Listed Gunter Mansion in Cross Street and an agreement has been reached to acquire it if the funds can be raised.
The Monmouth-based trust, which specialises in rescuing endangered treasurers, aims to restore the building which boasts one of the best preserved recusant chapels in the UK and the only one in Wales.
At the time the property was owned by Thomas Gunter, a local attorney and ardent supporter of the Catholic faith.
A number of retail units now occupy the ground floor of the mansion which once contained the chapel in its attic.
The trust needs to raise £200,000 to buy the building from The Cardiff Exchange and Office Company Ltd and to carry out immediate urgent repairs. A bid will then be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for major restoration.
Once the restoration work is complete, the bulk of the building will remain retail to ensure it has a viable economic future which, it is hoped, will be an opportunity to help in the regeneration of that part of the town centre.
A public meeting, hosted by the Trust’s chairman, Andrew Becket, was held in the town last week.
Mr Becket said there was ‘tremendous support shown’ and a wealth of ideas put forward. A steering group is due to meet and several groups formed to look at areas of the project such as the lottery bid, fundraising and research of the building.
“It is II*Listed for its ‘special interest as a late 16th century house with fine features and an important history.”
An altar piece, The Adoration of the Magi by an unknown artist is now on display in Abergavenny Museum.(See above) St David Lewis would have offered Mass in this building.
The trust wants to see the chapel opened up to the public, and one possibility is to create a small centre celebrating the history of the Catholicism in Wales.
Former Torfaen MP Paul Murphy who is a prominent Catholic, the local history society and Civic society have pledged their support for the project.
Mr Becket said: “Whatever happens, this will be a community project. We have no fixed ideas at the moment but we will keep it within the realms of what is achievable.”
It has until the end of 2016 to raise the funds.More anon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Cambrai Homily and Three Gwentian Saints...

This study considers the concept of spiritual martyrdom as it came via the ‘Desert Fathers of Africa, via the Church in Gaul   to Wales and Ireland
It argues that spiritual martyrdom existed as a practice We consider three Gwentian saints who show the characteristics of  spiritual martyrdom, even though the exact sequence of events in their lives cannot  be accurately verified.I hope to show that the 'White Martyrdom' of St Augustine was an early practice, involving penance and deprivation,that the ‘glas’ or blue martyrdom was a particularly British and Irish penance, involving tears and atonement
The Greek word ‘martyr’ μάρτυς,=mártys  means ‘witness’. The saints are ‘shining like the sun’ for Jesus Christ lived again in their deeds and being. Such were St Tecla, working on an island near Chepstow and  St Tegfedd,  both  killed ‘by Saxons’ or more likely bandits. It was considered martyrdom, because sacrilege had occurred. On the death of her husband, in continental practice of the time, widows often consecrated their lives to God and took the veil. They were on a spiritual martyrdom but had shed their blood
Spiritual martyrdoms were observed in different colours, practised by the Desert monks, brought via Gaul, and promoted by St Martin of Tours and the Spanish monk Bachiarius, who combined the concept of penitence, austerity and atonement for these working with the poor and praying for the dead.
The Cambrai Homily ‘summarise’ these teachings from the early church,so that sinners can offer their sufferings and penances as ‘living martyrdoms’. We know what ‘red’ martyrdom is
they endure a cross or destruction for Christ’s sake, as happened in the Apostles when they persecuted the wicked and taught the law of God’.
  It is possible Tegfedd’s quiet estate(podum,villa), where the consecrated widow retired to end her days seeking salvation in penance, was polluted by an attack by bandits, possibly Saxons only out of greed for the treasures which may have been in her chapel. Her spiritual martyrdom of tears-her ‘glas’ or blue martyrdom thus became a ‘red(bloody)’ martyrdom, when her life was taken . It has been claimed by Bradney that her body was kept as a relic, as a bone was found walled up, when the Church was restored.
 St Derfel, seems to have spent most of his life and a charismatic and powerful soldier. It should be remembered he and his brothers were taught by one of the greatest Christian abbots in Wales, St Illtyd at Llantwit Major. He may indeed have been a warrior monk, or priest, and since Illtyd himself had been both of Breton extraction and a soldier and may have encouraged Derfel to literally fight the pagans, who had destroyed all churches in their wake in the Borderlands of Wales. The story of Camlan is well known, although its location is uncertain. Tristran Grey Hulse believes it took place at North Wales at the River Camlan in Eifionydd, now part of Gwynedd. We know the story of Gwynhwyfar’s adultery, not with Geoffrey’s fanciful  French ‘Lancelot’, but his own nephew, (or possibly even  own son,) Medrot.(Meuddredd or Mordred) The Battle of Camlan seems to have been victorious, but nothing was solved. No vita has survived for Derfel, but he appears in the Bonedd ,and the bards kept his deeds in memory with stirring poems about his ‘red hand’..There is a reference to ‘Dorfil’ in the hills around Camlan, which may have been a residence, and of course he did spend time in Llandderfel, Merionethshire, North Wales, but we have no way of knowing the sequence of the chronology of his life.
According to Bartrum  "Llydaw" may also be a nickname for SE Gwent , because of immigration so these saints may have been born in Gwent with Breton ancestry. In fact his aunt Dervella (Deruil)  was later Queen of Gwent and his father, ‘Llowell’ may have been the founder of  Llanllowell near Usk.  Derfyl’s surviving friend at Camlann, Petroc was also from South Wales, the Royal House of Glywys.  He was preserved ‘by his spear’. We do not know when he came to the Llandderfel  site on the Mynydd Maen, but we do know he was driven into a life of penitence and atonement there at one time. He had perceived the effect of the sin of adultery rising up and causing the widespread slaughter of Camlann and the death of all his companions.  The Church, as the Body of Christ, had to pray for sinners, so it appears Derfel would have dedicated his life to a ‘Glas’ (blue) Martyrdom’, defined in the Cambrai Homily as ‘when through fasting and hard work, they control their desire or struggle in penance and repentence’ Derfel was known as ‘Derfel Gadarn’ and it was now with his spiritual ‘might’ he approached martyrdom. Like the Druid deity Hu he ‘dragged souls from Hell’. It was a powerful accolade that lasted nearly a thousand years until his memory became extinguished when his statue burnt in 1536. His penance of tears in his ‘glas’ martyrdom, was probably in fasting, and praying for the souls of dead comrades. Such ‘spiritual martyrs’ gained heaven through suffering and penance and fierce ascetic penances, in addition they had to see to works of mercy and shrive others, because
Elwynt e lanneu e benýdýaw.       They went to the llan to do penance’.
He may have been a crefyddwyr  been an ordained priest or fighting monk-and it might have been the reason his life was spared at Camlan,  we do not know but he was certainly educated to this level at Llantwit Major.  There were late night vigils and prayers and a strict ascetic penitential like that of Gildas and Cummean   ’Glas’, we are told was the ‘hyacinth’ the colour of heaven. Derfel had ‘washed his robe ’ not in his blood, but ‘in tears’ for his companions and devoted his whole life to atonement and penitence, for his companions and leader and hence improved the lives of all around him.







Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Madrun Queen of Gwent ,in Caerwent Wife of Ynyr, Part Two

Yesterday we left Madrun married happily to Ynyr Gwent (Honorius in Latin) in the town of Venta Silurum or Caerwent. The life of a queen, overseeing the affairs of the palace and the raising of her eldest son, Ceidio was also combined in the production of two more sons for Ynyr, the famous Iddon, one of the most celebrated of the Gwentian Kings and Caradoc, who married Caradoc . She also gave birth to a daughter Cynheiddon.

Venta was a large and beautiful Roman city as was Caerleon, but the latter was a fort and not a Roman city, totally different to most other town dwellings or 'Trefs' in Gwent.
Their way of life was as the court was, Christian and the Irish priest Tathyws who was brought to Sudbrook on a small boat with twelve of his disciples, was the core of the Christian life and pattern of festivals and holidays. Tathyws was responsible for educating the royal princes of Glysyssing, Cadoc, Cyfyw, Cynydr and also their sister Maches who was foully murdered while tending the sheep.

Madrun must have gravitated towards Tathyws. Kindly and holy, he was a gifted teacher and priest. She was especially drawn to the teaching of St Augustine, the teaching which said that after their husbands death, widows could take the veil and become consecrated Widows as well as women, who were elderly and past child bearing age, who could also take the place of holy matrons. In this way they could embrace martyrdom, not of the 'red' or bloody type. This was called a White Martyrdom, where the Christian leaves all their security and all they hold dear and puts themselves outside the security system of the llan. The White Martyrdom was also usually preceded by a pellegrinatio ,where the would be Martyr (Welsh 'Merthyr') would embark on some sort of test, often by setting off on a boat on the sea to see where the boat would take him, should the Christian be worthy to be spared death of the sea, that was where God wanted him or her to be. Sometimes this journey would take place on land, until a sign from God would come and a new llan would be set up. It was often royal people who took the lead in this, having the means and the manpower to set about something like this. The gifts of land and farms necessary to support such llans could only be realised by people with some wealth. In the case of Ynyr, he granted land and a monastery to St Tathyws.

Having a monastery in the Roman town was a kind of social services. The Vita Tathei says that Ynyr  provided part of his own palace for the monks to reside in and moved elsewhere.  Although the monks main job was to pray for the world, they worked hard in manual labour in the field, and provided a school , counsel and wrote records for the King and Queen, and writing letters and deeds.They often took in orphans and fed the poor in harsh winters and famines.

In particular, Tathyws was the kindly father Abbot, who replaced her own beloved father Vortimer the Blessed and he was a big support to the traumatised woman and a wise spiritual counsellor.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Madrun, Queen of Gwent and Saint of a heavenly valley in Cornwall Part One In North Wales

 It has been a while, since I have visited the topic of Queen Madrun of Gwent, wife of Ynyr.She is far from the 'legendary figure' in the guide books of the church, nor is she obscure.After doing some considerable study on the Queen as part of a degree in this period of history, I new have some new information, which I am sharing with my blog readers.

Madrun was born into a pagan family. The name Madrun itself is similar to the Roman goddess Matrona. Her grandfather was the pagan king named in English as Vortigern, at first married to the Roman Sevira, who was descended from the British Roman Emperor and pretender, Maximus or Macsen Wledig. Their child , Vortimer came to greatly disagree with his father's way of dealing with the Picts-that is, by inviting in Saxon mercenaries. This was a disastrous policy and as the young child Vortimer (Gwytherin Fendigaid in Welsh) grew up, he counselled his father against this policy. His mother brought him up in the universal Christian faith, and Vortimer started to join his fathers' opponants fighting against the Saxons. He married, though we don't have the name of his wife, yet his Children were two girls Madrun and Anna, who were brought up on the Lleyn peninsula near Nefyn in North Wales.

The scenery at Lleyn is wonderful, especially with Bardsey Island, the 'Island of Twenty Thousand Saints' before them. In fact she and her maid Annwn visited the island, and whilst they were there, they had a dream, in which the Virgin told them both to build a church on the mainland, when they slept on the Island overnight.

This church was founded by the teenage girl at Trawsfynydd and later became the  church of Father John Roberts a Catholic priest and saint, who was executed in the time of persecution.

Vortimer, Madrun's father was blessed by St German and was always called 'Gwytheryn Fendigaid) Vortimer the Blessed after that. When the ageing Vortigern married his second wife, he chose Rowena, daughter of Hengist as his bride and she is reputed to have poisoned the saint. The British were furious and rose up  in rebellion. Vortigern and his family fled to Tre'er Ceiri, a hillfort near Neven, and Madrun, by now married Baring Gould and Fisher allege a first marriage of Madrun to Gwgon Gwron ab Peredur ab Eiffer Gosgorgg fawr(!!) However we hear no more of him. Aurelius a war commander of Roman extraction, possibly the true identity of 'Artur' as he ticks all the boxes.

Vortigern was also very unpopular with Saint German, Bishop of Auxerre, because he had committed incest before marrying Sevira and 'marrying' his own daughter, Catteryn. This child, who went on to be the saint Faustus, was taken back to Brittany with St German to be a monk. Vortimer was furious, refused to confess and all the clergy of Britain took against him for this evil. In fact, it is believed St German himself was behind
the attack on Tre'r Ceiri, the hillfort near Neven, where Madrun and Anna lived. St German did pray for the soul of Vortigern for forty days and nights, but Vortigern would not relent.

Aurealanus attacked the fortress with a combination of Britons, from Ynyr Gwent to a variety of Vortigern's friends, anxious to avenge him.  Vortigern Rowena, Hengist and Horsa were all killed and seemingly also Madrun's husband. She fled from the burning hill fort with Madryn and her son Ceidio and took refuge in different places. Because of the Pictish ancestry of the Vortigern Family, it was Madrun and Anna who became the heiresses of the lands of Vortigern. His property in Powys was seized by the Usurper Benadyl and land in Ceridigion (Carmarthen) went to Anna, and the lands in Gwent and Glamorgan went to Madrun. Knowing she was a Christian princess and that Ynyr Gwent was a strong warrior, St German  brokered a marriage between Madryn and Ynyr which turned into a successful love story. Both welcomed St Tathyws from Ireland  when his boat landed on the beach at Sudbrook (Porth Esgewin) and helped him to build his monastery .

Tomorrow the story goes on about her family life in Caerwent.

    This is St Merthiana's Church in Minster, Boscastle.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I have tried to post some pictures, but it clicking the 'add photos' page just brings up some trashy scratchcard game. Yet another glitsch. Everytime the BlogSpot becomes 'new' there are more problems.

So no pics, sorry  unless you click onto EWTN and 'pininterest' which gives you wonderful stills from the video. Monks, ancient abbeys and St Winifride's well. Plenty of pictures of all these things on my own blog.

This is truly the amazing story of the Catholic Faith in Wales. EWTN on
MONDAY 10th June at 9pm-   Romans to Age of Saints
TUESDAY 11th June at 9pm-  Age of Saints to Henry VIII
WEDNESDAY 12th June at 9pm- Henry VIII to present times

USA:(Airs 3 a.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. ET, and 11 p.m. ET, Monday through Wednesday, June 10-12.)

Steffano Mazzeo, who made these films is speaking at the History Day on Saturday in Cardiff for the Wales and Marches Catholic History Society. (Look at Diocese of Cardiff Website or email me '' if you would like to order tickets. It is a day of lectures with lunch included.

Underlines the survival of the church throughout penal times and how this can be useful to us today in the world to come and how to survive.

FILMED ON LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT WALES, much of it in Monmouthshire.

When speaking of Catholic repression and persecution, Wales is not always a country that comes to mind – yet Catholics in Wales endured repression and persecution from the time of the Roman Empire through the time of Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation. Fortunately, their faith remained strong. How is that possible – and what can we, as 21st Century Catholics, learn from them?

To find out, tune in to EWTN's original three-part documentary mini-series "Wales – The Golden Thread of Faith." (Airs 3 a.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. ET, and 11 p.m. ET, Monday through Wednesday, June 10-12.)  9pm for Welsh, Irish, Scottish an English.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dom Edwin Echeandia Loro-Our new Deacon

22nd December,is the feast day of several early Roman Martyrs and some very holy saints. St Zeno who died in the same year as St Julius and Aaron,who was a martyred soldier at Nicomedia(Turkey) After watching Diocletian (284-405) offering a sacrifice to the Roman deity Ceres, he burst out laughing, but was seized tortured and condemned to death. St Amaswinthus, Abbot of the Andalusian monastery of Silva de Malaga for forty four years, was a good and holy man who died much later in 982AD.St Chaeromon was Bishop of Nilopolis in Egypt during Trajanus Decius’ persecution, and was quite elderly when he and his friends fled into the desert and vanished. He is listed as a martyr and died in 250AD.St Flavian was another early saint who died in December 262. He was branded on the forehead and exiled to Tuscany, where he died in prayer. St Demetrius was a  Martyr with Honoratus and Flaviun. They died at Ostia, Italy. Possibly the same as Sts. Demetrius and Honorius on November 21.  St Hunger was Bishop of Utrecht in the Netherlans=ds and fled the diocese during th invasion of the Nortmans who died in Prum Germnanyi. All these men, whichever theoir epocht, their period lived out good and holy lives. However gruesome some of the stories, a young man giving his life to the service of
God is heartwarming, especially in the beautiful setting of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels Belmont, where Dom Edwin Echeander Loro was made a Deacon by the Most Reverend Kevin Macdonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark. The Mass, which had a beautiful liturgy began with Venantius Fortunatus (530-609AD) beautiful hymn Quem Terra pontus aethera \\(The Lord, whom earth and sea and sky adore and praise and magnify) followed by the Advent prose-the Rorate Caeli desuper sung in plainchant, led by their cantor, Abbot Paul Stoneham..
 The Scriptures were from Samuel, when Hannah takes Samuel to Eli to give him to the Lord (I:24-25) The Psalm was 'My heart exults in God my Saviour' and was the canticle Mary's Magnificat.
The second reading from the Act of the Apostles explains how the seven disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (6:1-7)St Stephen was one of these disciples and he and the other disciples Philip, Prochurus,Nicanor, Timon Parmenas and Nicklaus of Antioch all had hands laid on them and they became deacons and the Apostles prayed for them. Stephen, as we know was one
of the first deacons to be martyred and is commemorated on 26th December.

Following the Alleluia and the 'O Antiphon' O rex Gentium was sung before the reading of Lukes gospel from the Magnificat. (1:46-56)Brother Edwin was then called forward and presented for ordination by Father Abbot,He was accepted, called to celibacy, obedience and prayer and there followed the Litany of the Saints.during which Brother Edwin prostrated himself before the altar., Then, as in the Acts of the Aspotles, Archbishop Kevin laid hands on Edwin and made him a deacon and then prayed the prayer or consecration and invested him the the stole and dalmatic. There followed the presentation of the Books of the Gospel, the Kiss of Peace, and the Ave Maria.

After that we went into the Sanctus and the Mass followed as usual. The Communion hymn was the Liturgy of St James translated by Gerard Moultrie.Let all mortal flesh keep silence.,There followed Ecce Virgo Concipiet and Alma redemptoris Mater.. This was a very beautiful singing and Deacon Edwin looked as if he had been assisting at Mass for ever.The guests were invited to Hedley Lodge for teas and refreshments, which were delicious and I met some very interesting people.