Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy St David's Day-Dydd Dewi Sant-Hwyl i Phawb!

Well Happy and Blessed St David's Day to all the readers! This day was a high holy Day of Obligation in Britain until the troubles of the sixteenth century. Why? Here is his story.

St David was born of King Sante who forced himself on the hapless nun Non at St Davids in Pembrokeshire-formerly the Roman province of Menevia. Non was also of Royal blood. David was brought up piously, learnt Latin, Welsh, Greek and other subjects at a local monastery by his teacher, Paulinus (Palin)whom he later cured of blindness. There are many miracles ascribed to him. Ordained in Rome and consecrated as a Catholic Bishop in Jerusalem, David returned to live in Gwent for a while in the tiny chapel by the Honddu Brook, in the Golden Valley of Ewyas in the mountains to the North of the Country in the shadow of the Skirryd or Holy Mountain, overlooking Abergavenny. At the time of the crucifixion the sky went black and the local legend has it that the mountain split in two, cleft by the huge flaming sword of St Michael. Services are held up there nowadays and farmers collect earth to make their crops grow from there.

David lived in the cell in this beautiful valley-unspoiled even today, until St Dyfrig and St Deiniol visited him and begged him to come to Ceredigion(Camarthen to preach against the heresy of Pelagius,as the Pope had sent St Germain to do earlier. David did not want to be torn away from his retreat,but eventually went, when Deiniol and Dyfrig refused to eat unless he agreed!!!They all went to the synod (Church Apostles meeting) David spoke so eloquently against Pelagius who was disputing the divinity of Jesus that he levitated high over the people. He stood before 5 large wax candles denoting the wounds of Christ.The place today is still called Llandewi (holy plce of David)Brefi.

The Synod affirmed the true teaching of the Church and insisted David replaced Dyfrig (Dubricius) who was resigning to Llandaff and David became the premier Bishop at Caerleon. He found he Roman town too busy, and longing for solitude took the main church to st David in Pembrokeshire. They worked hard in the monastery, David did many deeds of mercy. When he died, we are told the church at st Davids (which houses his relics) became full of angels and flew with him up to heaven. From the Life of David by Rhygyfarch (Ricemarch)

David drank no strong drink-only water-ever. He cared for widows and orphans and their welfare as a priority. He was reputed to have enormous joy in his harp playing. He is also reputed to have died on the cliffs near St Non's Well and Chapel now, looking to Ireland and before he died, blessed the widows and children.His compassion for the suffering was endless.

His reputation was so great, as preacher, orator, miracle worker and Bishop, when formal canonisation was introduced he was canonised by Pope Callixtus II in the Twelfth Century, unlike many other saints who were acclaimed by the vox populi (voice of the people who knew a saint when they saw one!

Even with his wonderful learning, he was humble working hard inthe fields pulling a plough with his own body.

Today the County and the rest of Wales will be in singing ad voice competitions, harp and dance throughout Wales and honouring the Great Patron Saint of Wales-St David.

St David's Cathedral is now held by the Church in Wales and the relics viewed there in the reliquary, not far from the large picture of St Julius of Caerleon which looks down on it.Gwent can be proud that our greatest saint lived in the country for some time, prayed in it and hallowed it.

I shall shortly release another podcast to tell his story from original sources-with the magnificent harp playing of Cheryl Ann Fulton whose CD can be bought from Magnatune.'Airs of Wales'.MaryinMonmouth-please subscribe via rss,iTunes, Juice or others podcatchers. IT'S Free!
St David of Wales, pray for us!

Haut de la Garenne Children's Home Jersey

Former children from this home have been ringing in in hundreds to give evidence about this atrocity,not far different from the Dutroux scandal in Belgium. Unchecked evil finding its way in as good people turn the other way and the innocent are tortured and killed. Police yesterday found shackles and more chambers where they expect to find more little broken bodies.

Nevertheless, they are now- those that have not survived - in the mercy of God and the task begins of tracking down the murderers and torturers. I hope this is done speedily, to make sure more is not continuing elsewhere. God bless our Children and protect them from evil. Those that have survived have had a long life of flashbacks of evil to live with and it is good we are now more vigilant about who have the charge of children. There will always be some who slip through the net.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bridgend suicides . Madeleine McCann-Psychics

It seems that the police have made some progress in establising all these tenagers were linked through other friends etc. There was also some feed back in the papers about young people from Bridgend saying it is a great place to be and that a lot of what was written about the town was not true. It is not a rich town, but I think you have to worry about spiritual deprivation of young people. Not allowed to be taught about God at school (after primary school level it seems)they take comfort, if their messages of commemoration are to be believed in a 'happier place up there''with the angels' etc. Can it be that all the dumbing down of Christianity has not worked? That these youngsters are desirous of a God and afterlife-but want it now, in the true way of the twenty first century. Why, do they not rebel against this evil, evil culture of destroying themselves (and incidentally their families too, who by all accounts are loving and deeply distressed as you can imagine) We all have our crosses to bear in this life, and spiritual strength from the Eucharist, the Word and the people who make this a reality on earth, those near and dear to us, all make life joyful even when there is an odd 'dark night of the soul' or in the vernacular:

We have to 'Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again'!Not equipping children and young people spiritually is leaving them defenceless and weak in a deeply despairing world and lead them away from beauty and truth into dark regions.

Madeleine McCann
It seems psychics are drawing attention to the West Country and camping and caravansites. It would be a good guess in any case. Who looks twice at the families of travellers. I wish that someone would spot her somewhere. On each occasion the person guarding her at a sighting has always been claimed to be unkempt and untidy and could well be a very good idea of hiding her in a caravan. I think the time has come to close European borders and enforce checks on everyone again just to prevent children being smuggled as clearly she has been.How did she get a passport for someone to take her? Or do people even need one any more? God Bless you Madeleine.St Michael Guard you and God bring you home to your family.Still no news of Shannon Matthewswho ran away from home it seems and was trying to get to her father's home in Huddersfield.God Bless her and all our Children and keep them safe!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunday 18th May 2008-St David's Cathedral, Cardiff

On Sunday 18th May a Pontifical High Mass will be celebrated at St David's Cathedral in Cardiff at 11am. (0292025 1685). I am really pleased about this, because although I entered converted to the Catholic Faith during the time of the new Mass, I am so glad that we are all together again and applaud the Holy Father for beginning to heal the rift betweeen us, as he has tried to do with the Orthodox and with the Anglicans (ongoing negotiations) Christ wanted us to be in unity and I look forward to participating for the first time in this mass.

Apparantly there was an earthquake in Lincolnshire last night! We woke up as the room shook at 4in the morning. Of course not being completely awake I couldn't care less and yet this morning , just heard about it on the radio. It seems one man died when a chimney fell on him-strange at 4am, really and where he must have been standing, yet God rest his soul-and praise be to God for our protection from harm.

The sightings of Madeleine McCann in Weymouth and in France have gone into press silence. Something is not right here.Can't be right that she is seen (the pictures are all over he globe!)is very identifiable, witnesses are positive and yet they are all discarded and nothing further heard.What is going on? Can I ask everyone's prayers that the mystery is speedily resolved and the child returned?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Interview with Anthony Utting at Mathern

The new Podcast has just been put up on to iTunes. It is a bit more fluent as I get used to the new equipment/ Mathern is just a short step from the Romans' model town at Caerwent. We discuss the surrounding area and who the likely culprits were. Near Tintern is Llandogo (The Holy Place of Odoceus)It occurred to me, that Odoceus may have been a monk for a while at this important monastery and may have known St Tewdrig and Meurig. The Pool of Meurig is still known today as Pwillmeric near Mathern and Mathern is the place of the Martyr King.The rss feed is at the very bottom of the blog.

It seems Madeleine McCann may have been seen in Weymouth on the South Coast of Britain. The police are leaving no stone unturned and everyone is hopeful they will be successful.

Lastly within a few days I'm doing a St David's Day broadcast.

In Monmouthshire we are privileged to have had a new grotto opened by Emeritus Bishop Daniel Mullins of Menevia.He celebrated Mass at Tredegar in the East Monmouthshire valley Church at Tredegar, an area which would have originally belonged to the monks at Bassaleg in the 13thcentury

This was done to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to St Bernadette in the nineteenth century. The bishop began by finishing the newly constructed Lourdes grotto by cementing a large piece ofthe original grotto sent by the Lourdes Sanctuary authorities.

The Catholic Herold reported that at the end of Mass that throughout the coming year of the Lourdes celebrations Pope Benedict XI would impart his apostolic blessing on condition that pilgrims prayed for the Pope and the sick before the newly erected grotto at Tredegar. The Papal blessing would be hung prominently in the Church.

The Mass was concelebrated by Canon Edmund Mullins who had been director of the Welsh National Pilgrimage to Lourdes for 30 years.The Bishop, a fluent Welsh speaker, preached to the congregation, many of whom had to be content to listen while standing outside the Church porch. such were the numbers.

Confessions were heard throughout the celebrations which ended with a torchlight procession. It co-incided with the Torchlight procession at Lourdes. The Congregation sang the Lourdes Hymn with great hwyl and fervour.

The procession was led by the wheelchairs, the sick and normally housebound of Tredegar parish, who received the sacrament of the sick from Bishop Mullins.

The 150 Anniversary celebrations ended at the grotto with prayers for Pope Benedict XVI's intentions.

The Parish Priest Father Gareth Jones thanked the Bishop and the Canon Mullins for their presence and told the people to visit the grotto regularly and obtain the Apostolic Blessing, as well as praying for the sick and frail.

O rosy dawn, that proclaims the happy day of Salvation
To you O Virgin your people ask your prayers in the shades of
the night
The torrent that engulfs all who are drawn into the whirlpool
Rests calmly, as over its softened wave the ark of God is borne

While earth is parched with scorching heat, you alone are
covered with dew
And dew spread around you on earth as we look at you, the
untouched art

The serpent kifts his head and vomits up his poison and evil
But you, O Mother crush his proud inflated head as we read.
O loving Mother ,pray for your children,we beg you pray for us
Protect us in our battle with hell, you who were the means to
bear Our Saviour.

O Jesu born of the Virgin bright,all Glory to thee forever!
With Father Son and Holy Ghost All Glory be to the end of Time.

histis nuncia in noctis umbra plebs tua , Te Virgo supplex
February 11 The Apparitions of Lourdes

Friday, February 22, 2008

Madeleine McCann

The sighting of Madeleine McCann the day before yesterday has filled us all with hope that the child is still here with us, that Gerry and Kate will be reunited with her. We are bombarded every day with stories of children disappearing, running awau, shooting other children and dreadful stories of predatory paedophiles, Yet the hope still remains that she will be rescued soon and end the agony of the family. The hope remains that she has not endured a terrible time and the Love remains, that this little girl ,has captured hearts around the world and will soon be with us again. I imagine when she is returned it will be in secret to give the parents time to reajust. Those who have been quick to judge and condemn will have to live with this, and those who have had faith in her return will be vindicated. Yes they are the cardinal virtues-Faith, Hope and Love.What is good is a whole scale examination of these paedophiles. They won't of course be in heaven afterwards, but it is up to all of us to put our arm to the wheel to unmask all of them so that our children are safe.

A 7 year old little boy was assaulted by a paedophile yesterday, he was not hurt but very shocked and upset.God bless him. God bless them all, all the children in the clutches of hard hearted selfish predators.December 28 was Holy Innocents Day, which is all about child Martyrs.

The Bridgend teenagers are still being investigated and we need to be bombarding MPs to take down these sites if they break rules and force the sites to block the evil people preying on the loneliness and emotional problems of kids trying to live in a virtual world instead of a vibrant real one. We should say 'Fame is not important-you are worth as much being a doctor, or teacher, nurse or plumber-you are loved for who you are, not what you can do or how you look or how famous you are'. If we allow them to go on in this way, we allow them to look at the world-a wonderful world-askew!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

St Tewdrig Part 2 in Preparation

Just putting up two cards of St Theodericus, the Latin verson of King Tewdrig!

Spiritual Sickness of Teenagers-Another victim

On the day I wrote about the upsetting nature of these suicides, the one o clock news has reported ANOTHER sixteen year old girl has hung herself in a wood in Bridgend, and that there are not 7 but 17 previous victims in Bridgend. The police say there is o obvious link between them, but the Internet is a still a big suspicion. Websites showing this cult figure identified by the Telegraph on Sunday should be taken down or scrambled and Bebo shold be more pro active in blocking suspicious links, which no doubt they now are.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux pertpetua luceat eis+

Bridgend Suicides-South Wales

I was greatly upset to learn this weekend from various papers about the Internet Suicides. It seems users of social networking sites like Bebo are killing themselves, so others can set up Internet bereavement walls. This is so desperately sad. We all like our showbiz and bits of celeb information, but it is creating for these people the illusion that if they are not popular, not liked or have no prospects of ever being anyone famous, that their life is of no value to anyone, lest alone their grieving parents.

There was a time when some spiritual direction, some ideas of an afterlife and the existance of God was taught in schools. Atheists have disabled many schools from this in the name of 'diversity', although non Christian children are usually well taught in their own religions. The need for God in human beings is as vital as food.At least Christian and Catholic schools address this-what about other schools.They are all supposed to be having Christian RE-but this has become a confusing mishmash of different religions, no taught doctrinally.

As the hart longs for cooling streams, so longs my heart for you, O God.

The sad thing about all this, is there is a man on this site or linked to it (although I am not certain about this-perhapsit is another site these teenagers link to)giving advice to teenagers on how to take their own lives.The Telegraph said, he felt there was nothing wrong with it!

These young people are using the internet websites to cope with the considerable emotional problems of teenagers. The Sunday Telegraph printed some of the queries of these youngsters about trying to kill themselves.

Another website has been put up called 'Gone too Soon' where all these young suicides-seven so far this year, can have their profile and picture placed in commemoration, giving them some sort of 'fame'.Other Teenagers leave virtual flowers and presents at these bereavement sites. Is this a 21st century sickness?

We all enjoy sites like Facebook, but children have to be able to cope with the real world, where things ae not always exciting and dramatic , where there is failure and disappointment at what might have been.

Remember Pick yourself up, Dust yourself down ad start all over again!

When they enter sites with shadowy perverted figures, encouraging one of the greatest sins of suicide and the spiritual sickness which these Satanic suicide cult figures promote, we have failed them.We have not given them the tools for spiritual combat -fighting the negative in life, and promoting the positive.

Then there is the enormous enormous sense of grief of loving parents who can't understand why the children did not come to them. Are children being stressed beyond belief by all these exams and spiritual deprivation, which have been replaced by celeb cults, environmental issues and entertainment, and especially peer group pressure? Drugs and binge drinking are so much a parcel of this nothingness that is there.

Only God , who knew you in the womb and has counted all the hairs on your head.knows we are all unique human beings and greatly loved by him .Perhaps that love has to be kindled and worked on especially in families who have split up and where there are undealt with anger issues among children who can no longer have a cherished father or mother as part of their everyday lives.Sometimes the feelings of these people are no taken into account. They cope well outwardly and bleed inside and there is no help for them, as they have not been taught prayer .

Strangely many of these memorials talk about 'being better on the Other Side', 'In the next world' etc. So they are not without a certain amount of Holy Spirit, but how terribly terribly desperately sad.

Our Lady, St Mary of Tintern please pray with us as we ask the Heavenly Father to take them to himself by the promise of Our Lord and hold them in his arms, where they will find the love they looked for here. St Michael overcome these demons and forgive us all for failing the young.Hold in your heart the grief of the parents, who are still coming to terms with the reality of these events and whose lives will never be the same again. Amen

Sorry its been sad today. I am upset by this. Teenagers living in silent despair on the Internet at night. How awful to stare into nothingness! Hope you are all listening to who killed Tewdrig? the free podcast from iTunes.Out now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who killed King Tewdrig, Saint and Martyr a Mediaeval Whodunnit!

My podcast Mary in Monmouthshire has been achieved using new equipment which I hope will improve the quality of my output. In Part One I have recorded the story as it appears in the Liber Landaviensis (Book of Llandaff) complete with the prophecy of the Angel of the Lord. I also speak about my car problems, the lovely Spring weather and my trip to Llandaff. But the soundseeing there is for another episode!
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We have had frost the last two nights, but lovely spring weather by day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So who did kill Tewdrig then? The Answer!

Yesterday I recorded my interview with historian Mr Anthony Utting from Mathern. A professional historian , he has published two books about St Tewdrig and therefore very knowledgeable also about various other aspects of history locally. He has researched the Anglo Saxon Chronicle and History of the English Church by Bede and is therefore able to tell me that whilst many of the facts about Tewdrig’s death are not certain that he believes the person buried beneath the sanctuary is the Saint King.He seemed from Archbishop Godwin’s account to have been a large, well nourished man with a large wound in his head-similar to the account in the Book of Llandaff. Modern historians and Scholars like to scoff a bit at this book as they are anxious to prove everything from science, but three days to die is plausible for a head wound inflicted by an Angon or Anglo Saxon spear inducing a coma. He was brought from Tintern (or Ty’r n Brennin-House of the King) to Mathern on the way to Ynys Echni (Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel) a holy place where so many Welsh Saints and royalty are buried. Interesting the word ‘Ynys’-(unnuss-island)Islands were very holy indeed and equivalent to a desert. We have heard about Bardsey Island off North Wales, Caldey Island off Tenby, Flat Holm (Ynys Echni-where the monk Gildas was for a time)and of course St Joseph of Arimathea’s island (Ynys Witrin) or Glastonbury. Tony is quite a colourful character and his interview very interesting and fun. It was another glorious day. Tony was originally Catholic and is now Churchwarden of St Tewdrics in Mathern.

I won’t give you the answer to whom Tony thought killed Tewdrig, you will have to listen to the Podcast for that.

I am currently having a bit of trouble installing my new equipment.An improved microphone and mixer facility which should improve sound quality, but I can’t hear what I am recording through the ear phones and need to take advice at the moment so any day now-when the penny drops I’ll get it up there on iTunes! Not aving had a car for some days has worsened the problems, but I’ll have the Two Tewdrig programmed up very soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

St Teilo's Day-Relic in Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff

Alright, I know that Llandaff is not in Monmouthshire, however, when Tewdrig's son Meurig become King he made huge grants of land to Llandaff in memory of his father and was one of the great Christian Kings of early times. Meurig granted the land to Odoceus (Oh doh kay us) which is still easier toe say than the Welsh version Euddogwy (Oi thog oo ee!)

Odoceus was the bishop at the time. Teilo succeeded Dubricius as bishop of Llandaff and by then the 'archbishopric' at Caerleon had gone to St David's in Pembroke (Menevia) by then.So Teilo, although a North Wales Saint is the missing bishop.

On Tuesday I went to see Llandaff Cathedral. The new car went well and very much enjoyed the trip because the weather was fabulous for February and I drove down through the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean. I got to Llandaff at about 11.30am and was able to park close to the Cathedral. It seemed large and imposing from the car park, but in truth,much smaller than St David’s and there was extensive rebuilding because of a bomb having been dropped in the Cathedral precinct I 1941 I think.

There were no transepts, so it was not cruciform and therefore perhaps plainer than many cathedral (or as it was Abbey designs) It was an Abbey before the sixteenth century. There was a large preaching cross outside, though not the original one, where Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury had preached for the crusades in 1188, when accompanied by Gerald the Welshman. It was on the same spot, however. There were gargoyles on the tower and many mediaeval Welsh saints, but also a statue of St Peter on the tower.

Inside was a large, quite light cathedral, with a big nave. I am not a huge fan of contemporary sculpture, but in the centre a large cylinder of concrete resting on four supports with an enormous figure of Christ sculpted on it-very expertly. I felt he looked quite scary, however I am not a connoisseur of such things and no doubt it is very good craftsmanship.I always thought Christ looked like us and was not so scary. There were various people looking after the cathedral who were lovely. And after buying a guide book I shot off. There were many treasures here, which I will describe in the podcast. There are a few videos on Facebook ‘MaryinMonmouth’ group as well. The parts I liked most were the Lady Chapel and the Dyfric/Dubricius Chapel. Which I thought was the St Teilo Chapel. This was to the right of the altar. I understand the original Abbey Church had quite a few chapels. Biggest thrill was they opened the locked St Teilo relic for me to see. This had quite a chequered history, but was beautifully kept. I was only sorry there was no candle stand or candles or prie-Dieu there so you could spend some time looking at it.It was so extremely kind of the lady and gentleman verger to open it for me to see. The relic has literally been around the world, inlaid with gold.The skull was the part kept in Llandaff. I am doing a separate podcast on Welsh relics. These precious souvenirs of saints of old were often destroyed during the sixteenth century in Britain, so we are fortunate to have kept some. Evidence of Oliver Cromwell using it as a tap room, place for their horsesand defacing so many ancient monuments is all around us . (The evil that men do lives after them-Hamlet) The details of the visit can be heard on the podcast, although I am too close to the microphone.

I am currently having a bit of trouble installing my new equipment.An improved microphone and mixer facility which should improve sound quality, but I can’t hear what I am recording through the ear phones and need to take advice at the moment so any day now-when the penny drops I’ll get it up there on iTunes! Not aving had a car for some days has worsened the problems, but I’ll have the Two Tewdrig programmes up very soon!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Who Killed King Tewdrig? A Celtic Mystery.....Part I

Podcast no 9 (Download free from iTunes)

The place of our mystery

A few miles west of Chepstow, or as it used to be known by its French name Striguil, there are verdant meadows on either side of the A40 which form a pill or a low area of land, which used to be flooded from the Severn at High Tide. This was the Saint Pierre Pill .This was near one of the most important of the crossing places on the River Severn at Porth Iscoed (The Harbour under the wood)which became Portskewett. Apart from Beachey ferry and some stepping stones further down the Severn, this was an important crossing place. The road passing trough Mathern was an ancient British track winding right from the coast to Shirenewton. Here nestling in a small settlement of religious buildings amidst beautiful trees, rests Mathern Church, dedicated to the protection and memory of Saint Tewdrig and miraculously still keeping his relics.

At this time Morgannwg or Glamorgan, was joined to Gwynllwg (Gwent)- extended right to the Brecon Beacons, Gwent above the wood and Gwent below the Wood. This is a truly lovely and ancient corner of Gwent.

Birth of Tewdrig

The king of Gwent and his wife-King Nynniaw had a son called llwywarch who was a fine prince and brought up as a Christian, ;probably training at Caerwent and learning all the things chieftains did at that time-fighting with an axe, sword fighting archery and quarter staff fighting. He married and had a son called Tewdrig. Tewdrig is called Theodoric in Latin documents. Now Tewdrig was educated as a child with St Tatheus monks at Caerwent-as all the local Welsh royalty attended this very special monastery and he loved the rhythm of the day, the liturgy of the hours, he loved the Vespers as the sun went down and adored the way the monks sang their hymn to Our Lady after Compline when they went to bed.

Tewdrig the Christian Prince

Prince Tewdrig was inspired by the ideals of Christianity, the value of Peace and love, service of others and a gentle life of Praise to God for all his goodness in the gift of Jesus as a scapegoat for all our sins. He engaged in lively debate with the monks who saw his joy. Gradually his boyhood turned to manhood and he was needed at home where he was groomed for hid duty as a future king of Gwent and Glamorgan. He was trained in every aspect of warfare, which he embraced gladly. His father told him about the menace of the Saxons who were coming Westwards all the time. They were pagans, not Christians and destroyed monasteries wherever they could. Llywarch explained how important it was to defend these places from the pagans and how one day he would be king and have to defend the Church.

King Tewdrig of Gwent

The Chieftain Lwywarch died and King Tewdrig was made King. He took over all the great offices of state and donated a great deal of money to help the church at Llandaff to set it off on a firm footing. Above all, he wanted to help the church, which but for his rank, he might have joined. One day he saw a beautiful woman at court. Her name was Govan and she was a princess of a neighbouring tribe. At length he and Govan married. They loved each other a great deal and Tewdrig had never been so happy, because Govan was a gentle and loving Christian princess. Nevertheless Tewdrig, always placing his fate in the hands of God gained some startling successes over the marauding English invaders. His joy seemed complete when Tewdrig and Govan found they were to have a Child. But there were no more recorded children and Tewdrig wearied of the world of politics and fighting and desired to enter his green martyrdom. He did his duty by his people, was a brave and fearless fighter and his son had grown into a fine young king and now just wanted to serve God. However no more children are heard of and it is just possible that the saintly Govan died in childbirth, as so many young women did, and it is a possibility that this is why Tewdrig desired to retire from the world when his son had grown to manhood.

Saint Govan his wife

The other possibility, since his wife is also designated a saint, that having produced a son, she also retired to a convent to serve God, but I think it unlikely she would leave her child Meurig.

Hermitage at Tynderyn or Dinas y Brennin (Tin-tern)Wye Valley

Tewdrig went into his desert, where he dwelt on the rocks at Tintern. The very name Tintern is Welsh Ty Deryn (the house of the King). The spot he chose was rocky we know but probably on the site of the present Abbey since it was a beautiful place.It could also have been Dinas y Brennyn (the King’s fortress)Archeology suggests there was something Roman in the site of the abbey. He spent his days in prayer, lived from fishing in the Wye and growing food and was visited often by his son. He was greatly troubled by the tales of Saxon Mercian raids on Christian monasteries in Gwent. Every time a messenger came with tales of another Celtic monastery destroyed in the Herefordhire or West of the Severn , he would become even more angry. In the book containing this story, the Liber Landevensis we read Tewdrig was a great warrior abd while he possessed the kingdom he was always victorious, so that when his face was seen in battle he was always victorious’.

The angel also speaks of the natives and other inhabitants, because clearly these were refugees from the invading Saxon line which had spread to the Severn or the Hafren as it is called in Welsh.

Story from the Liber Llandaff

The angel of the Lord said unto him on the preceding night:
‘Go tomorrow to assist the people of God against the enemies of the church of Christ, and the enemy will turn their face in flight, as far as Pwll Brochwael (possibly Brockweir)and thou being armed stand in the battle, and seeing thy face and knowing it, they will, as usual take themselves to flight, and afterwards for the space of thirty years, in the time of thy son, they will not dare to invade the country; and the natives and other inhabitants will be in quiet peace, but thou wilt be wounded by a single stroke in the district of Rhyd Tyndyrn and in three days die in Peace.(et tu tamen vulnerabis una plaga in Ryl Tindyrn et morieris in pace post triduum’.’

Now 3 days to die is consistent with a head injury. The Saxons under Ceolwulf or a Mercian raider were advancing down the Wye.Meurig, possibly still a teenager, took fright and rode for Tewdrig at Tintern. Reaching Tintern with his men by evening , he jumped off his horse, ran in and told his father the news. Tewdrig was horrified and knew the time the angel had spoken of had come.

The Book of Llandaff continues the story:‘Rising in the morning , when the enemy of his son Meurig came , he mounted his horse and went cheerfully with them, agreeably to the commandment of the angel, and being armed he stood in battle on the banks of the Wye, near the ford of Tintern (that was later known as Pont y Saeson or Saxon Bridge) and on his face being seen, the enemy turned their backsand betook them to flight, but one of them threw a lance, and wounded him therewith, as had been foretold for him, and he therefore rejoiced, as if spoil had been taken on the vanquishing of the enemy.

The dying Tewdrig makes for Flat Holm Island (Echni)

After his son, Meurig returned victorious, and with the spoil he had taken, he requested his father to come with him, who said thus :I will not depart hence until my Lord Jesus Christ shall bring me to the place which I have desired, where I shall like to lie after death, that is, in the Island of Echni (possibly Flat Holm.)And in the morning two stags, yoked and ready were before the house where he lodged, and the man of God, knowing God had sent them, mounted the carriage, and wherever they rested, there springs flowed, until they came to a place near a meadow towards the Severn.’

The Death of King Tewdrig, Saint and Martyr

At this point, we come to the place when Tewdrig needed to rest and have his wound cleaned, and they stopped near a holy spring. Tewdrig was carried to the spring and was cooled by the fresh water and the grass. He called his son to him and ordered that a church should be built on the spot the God had led them to, and he wished to be buried in it. The carriage with the stags was completely broken . He ordered the stags be let loose and then said‘ Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’. Lying there on the grass, he stared at the heavens and waited for God to take him. After a short while, he met his Maker.

The Liber goes on:

’His son, Meurig, being informed of the death of his father, built there an oratory and a cemetery, which were consecrated by St Oudoceus (or as we know him Euddogwy) and for the soul of his father he granted the whole territory to Bishop Odoceus, and the church of Llandaff , and its pastors in perpetual consecration without any payment to any mortal man besides St Oudoceus and the Church of Llandaff. (St Oudoceus’ monastery was at Llan-dogo north of Tintern, on the site of the present church.. The area of the inland water flow is now called Pullmerick (Pwll-Meurig).

Meurig and St Oudoceus when he was made Bishop of Llandaff
The king held the four gospels in his hand and confirmed the endowment of the holy church, with the Holy Cross going before them, and the holy choir singing, with Odoceus singing “May peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.” “Glory and riches shall be in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever.” And with the sprinkling of holy water on all the boundaries, he confirmed the same Privilege as had been before given to St. Dubricius. He would not have to go on military expeditions, the church had the right of sanctuary, without human protection forever , together with the kings of Britain whose bodies were committed to Llandaff, forever. The document goes on’ as the Church of Rome has dignity above all the churches of the catholic faith, so the Church of Llandaff exceeds all the churches of southern Britain in dignity, and in privilege, and in excellency; and with complete commonage to be enjoyed by the present and future inhabitants, in field, and in waters, in wood, and in pastures; and with those boundaries, From Cynlais within Taff, and EIei, the whole territory as far as the sea. We are told he was a great scholar and very humble and wise. The Church and monastery at Llandogo was and is still dedicated to him.

Tewdrig’s Feast Day is given as January 3rd.The place where he died was called Merthyr Deryn or the Martyr King-and now shortened to Mathern. Mathern is near the junction of the Wye and Severn. Some historians have argued the battle was at Bath, where we know there was a great battle and come in to the big Hunger Pwll at high tide , transported by boat , This would exactly have brought him to that area. It is also true that Meurig managed to keep the Saxons to the East of the Severn, safeguarding the area now known as Wales (Land of Romanised Britons) .

There is a huge mountain and forest in the Malvern area called Wychwood, and further up the forest of Arden, near Birminham. The superstitious Saxons would not penetrate there not being fond of woods or mountains. This meant Wales kept its identity inspite of individual Saxons settling there. Tewdrig and Meurig are true heroes of Wales as well as the Church, which they defended so valiantly and for whom Tewdrig gave his life.

That is not the end of the tale. I shall continue next time with what happened afterwards.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday-Time to say sorry?

The sun shone brightly this morning at the Mass with the distribution of the Ashes-even if you did hear tummies rumbling! The beautiful Psalm 51 was said check podcast MaryinMonmouthshire from Itunes for today's episode 'A Newport Boy in Venice' to hear this psalm sung in Venice!

Miserere Mei

Have mercy on me O God in your faithful love
In your great tenderness wipe away my offences
Wash me throughly from my guilt
purify me from sin.

For I am well aware of my offences
My sin is constantly in mind
Against you alone have I sinned
I have done what you see to be wrong.

That you will show your saving justice when you pass sentence
and your victory may appear when you pass judgement
Remember I was born guilty
A sinner from the moment of my conception,

But you delight in sincerity of heart
and insecret you teach me wisdom
Purify me with hyssop until I am clean
wash me till I am whiter than snow.

Let me hear the sound of joy and gladness
and the bones you have crushed will dance
Turn away yur face from my sins
and wipe away all my guilt

God create in me a clean heart
renew me with a resolute spirit
do not thrust me away from thy presence
do not take away from me your spirit of holiness.

Give me back the joy of your Salvation
sustain in me a generous spirit
I shall teach the wicked your paths
and sinners will return to you......

Psalm of David 'for the choirmaster'
Psalm for Ash Wednesday

Today the Father gave us the sign of the cross in ashes on the forehead as an outward sign of penitence, which was very inward too and pleasing to see Mass so full on a weekday/

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shrove Tuesday-Are you Shriven?

To Shrive is an old English word meaning to absolve people of sin. This was something everyone did before Lent. In the early Church Confession of venial (small scale sins) sins was left to the rite at Mass or Holy Communion,or was done privately. The custom of private confession actually was taken into the Church from the custom in Wales, Ireland and Scotland. It was customary for clergy in this area to have an anmchara or 'soul friend'. The 'soul friend' was usually a priest who wanted to reconcile someone weighed down with sin. Because of the Keys of Peter, the Priest absolved his 'soul friend' (another priest or lay person). The person would come back into good standing with God, having admitted his sins and been forgiven. This process f private confession came to the European Continent eventually because of Saxon and Celtic Missionaries. Large sins (mortal or grave sins) elsewhere were always confessed to the Church as a whole and penances could last for years and the person would have to do public penance. The Celtic custom was adopted at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. Shrove Tuesday reminds us of the Easter Duty.
The Pancakes are also a sign of the season, because in Celtic times, they their shape and colour reminded them of the sun, or Christ, the Light of the World. The sun was an ancient symbol of the Welsh Irish and Scottish and easily incorporated into a Christian symbol, as it was into the Celtic Cross.
Take a look at these:
1.He who fails to guard the Host properly so that a mouse eats it, shall do penance for forty days.
He who gives anyone a beverage in which a mouse or a weasel is found dead shall do penance with three special fasts.

I like this one:
Small boys who strike each other shall do penance for seven days;but if they are older for twenty days. If they are adolescents they shall do penance for forty days!
(Penitential of Cummean) A good penance fasting!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Our Lady, St Mary of Tintern, Pray for us.........2.2.08

A beautiful statue of Our Lady of Tintern, similar to to the original destroyed in the sixteenth century, was officially installed in Tintern Abbey on Candlemas Day (Saturday 2nd February) by sculptor Philip Chatfield and masons employed by Cadw, from Tintern Abbey.Many happy pilgrims gathered for Midday Prayer at Tintern Abbey and all rejoiced at the beautiful setting of the statue in this holy place.
It has been placed on a specially carved plinth under the window nearest the transept in the covered south aisle. Flowers and candles adorned the statue brought by pilgrims. Whist it was very cold, the sun shone brightly as did the happy faces of the pilgrims.

The statue is a re-creation of one dating from the 13th century, similar to one at Amiens Cathedral, fragments of which were found at the abbey, where Cistercian monks lived and worshipped for four centuries until the Dissolution, in 1536.
Using stone from the Forest of Dean and hand tools only, Mr Chatfield carved the statue at the abbey, based on detailed research of similar pieces ‘

The work was carried out with the permission and encouragement of Cadw, under the patronage of Rt Revd Dom Paul Stonham, Abbot of Belmont; the Rt Revd Dominic Walker, Bishop of Monmouth; Rt Revd Daniel van Santvoort, Abbot of Caldey, and the Friends of Our Lady of Tintern. (email address in links below)

Prayers were said to mark the occasion, at noon on Saturday, the Feast of the Presentation. The service began with the office hymn for the feast of Candlemas-the Presentation of the Lord and then prayers were said. Revd Norman Wallwork (Methodist minister from Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary) led the intercessions. We finished with a new hymn ‘Our Lady of Tintern’ sung to a popular tune.

At this point the recitation of all 20 decades of the Rosary began, led by Lynne Hunter Johnston, the Joyful, the Sorrowful, The Glorious and the Luminous. Not every one stayed for all 20 mysteries but it was a spiritual and joyous occasion, one of several in 2008.

Our Lady of Tintern
By Dannie Newson

Lady of Tintern we come to proclaim
The wonder and joy of your Son’s saving name:
Lady of Tintern we thank you and bless
The courage and grace which made you say ‘Yes’.

Yes to salvation for all of our race,
Yes to rebirth in a heavenly place;
Yes to the end of pain and despair,
Yes to a life of love and true care

Lady of Tintern we come to proclaim
The wonder and joy of your Son’s saving name:
Lady of Tintern we bless you again;
Let heaven and earth ring out the Amen.