Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Five Podcasts

Mary in Monmouth is a podcast created by Evelyn Nicholson as part of her Apostolate in highlighting Catholic spirituality in Monmouthshire, or the ancient Kingdom of Gwent. Evelyn attended school at St Julians in Newport, one of the first Gwentian saints she talks about and then attended the University in Wales, Aberystwyth and University of London. She gained her Cathechist Diploma from the Maryvale Institute in September 2007.
Evelyn was very influenced by the stories of Gwent told to her by her father Harry Francis Nicholson, who together with his brothers was proud to be a 'Man ofGwent' and who was proud to assert that people from Gwent, the Silures, Sugari and others fought not only the Anglo Saxons and Normans, but other Welsh Kingdoms, such as Glamorgan, the Irish, various pirates and all manner of others. The Saxons under Harold conquered all of Gwent shortly before he in turn was killed at Hastings. Harold worshipped at the Church at St Woolos known as Llanfair (St Mary) now known as St Woolos Cathedral (St Gwynlliw's).

The link to Rome was always very strong indeed. People went from Gwent to Pilgrimages in Rome and Jerusalem, including St David-one time Bishop of Caerleon, St Cadoc and St Illtid.

The story begins at the Court of King Caractacus, his son born in Rome called Linus who knew St Peter and succeeded him as Pope.We then look at the legend of the Glastonbury Thorn and evaluate this. Saints Julius, Aaron, Amphilabus and Alban are next to be discussed .We take a break to look at some ancient Catholic Christmas traditions such as the Mari Lwyd (the Venerable Mary) which has been merged with a pre Christian custom and visit Tredegar House in Newport and its Victorian Christmas.

We then move on to the Age of Saints in Monmouthshire and consider the style of the Catholic faith in the first Millennium of the Catholic faith in Wales. How the priests took over from the Druid Brehons, how Howel Dda submitted his laws to the Pope for approval. How thirty Welsh flowers are named after Mary. We talk about Green Martyrdoms and White Martyrdoms and how the early Welsh prayed and confessed and used rosary beads to learn psalms and the 'Our Father' or Paternoster. We look at St Gwynlliw , St Gwladys and their Children and St Tatheus of Caerwent and the martyred St Maches and the penance St Tatheus placed upon her murderers. What were the early Monmouthshire monasteries and the areas they influenced. How did they live? How did they worship?

We learn of the Holy Mountain-known as St Michael's Mount known as Ysgyrrid Fawr (The Skirrid) which was split in half at the time of the Crucifixion. This mountain was climbed by Catholics attending secret masses during time of terrible persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The story of the the martyred hermit Pater Isshow or St Issui, murdered when offering kindness to a traveller.

We then pass through the Saxon and Viking times, with them sailing up and down the Usk and the Wye and laying waste to the surrounding villages and grand Roman towns like Caerleon.

Benedictine priories were set up as the result of the Norman Conquest, and many of these have exciting and varied histories. Goldcliff Priory, Chepstow, Usk, Abergavenny,Monmouth and Bassaleg all produced exciting histories, which in time were completed with large Cistercian Abbeys at Tintern and Llantarnam,Grace Dieu and Abbey Dore now in Herefordshire). There was the Great Augustinian Abbey of John the Baptist at Llanthony, and Austin Friars and Dominicans in Newport,all but wiped out during the Plague.There was also an Augustinian Priory dedicated to St Cynfarch near Chepstow, and Franciscans at Usk and Hereford and Carmelites at Usk

We explore various Gwentian Devotions and move on to the Great Divorce and discuss the true reasons and consequences of Henry VIII assuming the Pope's role and how it led to almost 250 years of persecution of those who remained lyal to Rome. The martyrdom of large numbers of sons of Gwent people who loved the mass and went to be trained in French centres and the stubborn resistance of the great lay families of Gwent, the Heroic Herberts and Joneses, the Valiant Vaughans and the Magnificent Morgans all protected the Faith by giving shelter to priests and doing all they could to protect Catholics.

The little Church at Llanarth, the Gunter House and Little Chapel at Abergavenny and all the secret Mass centres and chapels, all these stories are waiting to be told, as well as the accounts of the Martyrdoms of St John Kemble near Hereford, St David Lewis at Usk, St John Lloyd and St Philip Evans at Cardiff, all of whom were agonisingly hung drawn and quartered, simply for being Catholic priests at a time when a Prebyterian Plot hatched by Titus Oates claimed that Catholic priests were spies and traitors wanting to hand Britain over to the Spanish Inquisition! That many of these priests were loved by Catholics and Protestants is undisputed. Protestants held 63 year old Father David Lewis' hand when he was hung until he died in order to prevent drawing and quartering.

We then go on to learn how the church began to build up again. Gwent was often called the 'True Daughter of Rome' because people valiantly resisted for hundreds of years all the attempts to beat them into submission and attend English services.

Finally large numbers of Irish swelled the ranks of Catholics in the county again, and the remaining great families who were not reduced to penury by having all their lands seized etc joined them. We talk about the Herbert Family again, Lady Llanover and her patronage of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit to began Catholic schools again in Monmouth, Abergavenny, Pontypool, Blaenavon, Abersychan and other places, and the return of the Rosminions to Newport and the Franciscan Friars to Cwmbran and the Benedictines to the new Priory at Abergavenny.

In 2007 huge numbers of pilgrims gathered at Tintern Abbey to see the dedication of the new statue of Our Lady St Mary of Tintern carved from the Mediaeval original after the lower part of the original was found minus head and head of the Infant Christ in the stone store. In a largely Mediaeval ceremony the project , under the commission of the Cistercian Abbot of Caldey Dom Daniel Sandvoort was dedicated by Archbishop of Cardiff, Archbishop Peter Smith and the Anglican Bishop of Monmouth and other dignitaries from the Ecumenical Society of the Virgin Mary.

Indeed the whole history of the country will be fascinating to all those who have been disinherited and disconnected from any of their local ecclesiastical history.The Anglican Church became disestablished as the Church in Wales and kept a largely Catholic theology.

All the podcasts have an element of Catechesis with Mary used as an overall title (as it is in the church )as Mary an Icon for the Catholic Church, which survived all the persecution aided by brave priests and brave people.