Monday, June 30, 2008

The famous Welsh Croesnawdd-Cross of Protection and other relics

St Beuno's body was coveted by three communities, Clynnog, Nevin and Bardsey (Ynys Enlli-(Unnuss enthlee)The name 'Ynys yr Arch in the parish of Clynnog is suposd to preserve a thrilling incident in the course of this memorable controversy. The Legend ran that as the saint's body was being carried to burial, the porcession halted at this spot, while a sharp contention arose about its ultimate destination. Such was the posture of affairs when the dispute was solved to everyone's satisfation. The hearers having fallen asleep awoke to find three coffins resembling each other in every respect. Clynnog secured the true one ! (Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement p 34) However, the sma etale is told of St Teilo you will remember.
Usually the saint would be buried and then at some point disinterred and if the body has decayed various bones were taken in special rituals and shared out amongst the churches.These were not worshipped in anyway, just venerated, bringing the saint closer to the people worshipping God.

The CroesnawddThe Famous Welsh Cross ofProtection

This holy cross , which was said to contain a portion of the True Cross was adorned with gold and precious stones and was always solomnly borne before the Prince of Wales as a palladuim of eternal salvation. After the death of the last native Prince of Wales, Llewellyn the Great, this precious relic was tken by Edward I to Westminster, after which it disappeared and no trace can be found.

The Relics of St David

In the Black Book of St David's(14th century) we read that a certain class of tenants in time of war'are bound to follow the Lord Bishop with the shrine of the Blessed David and with the relics; and entries in the Black Bookshow the great veneration paid to the relics of the great Saint Dewi.

Swearing an agreement

One of the oldest of Welsh legal terms, cynghrair -ie a covenant or agreement made on oath-means an agreement sworn over a relic (crair)

Felindre the name for a Welsh Slave Village

One passage from the Dimetian code pf the Welsh Laws is of exceptional interest as an illustration of the steady influence of the church on the side of freedom and progress. It must be pointed out, that there was in the Welsh tribes, a class of serfs, or villeins as the Saxons would call them, probably the descendents of the conquered Iberians.(Celts living in Spain and Portugal) These men lived in separate hamlets on the borders of the tribal settlements.

The word Felindre is a very common place-name in some parts of Wales even to the present day and is a survival of the old serf village-(dre-f or Tre-) is the name for a serf-slave)

Law of Serfdom and Slavery

THe passage referred to deals with the class of persons wose privileges increase in one day, and among them is the serf-slave or villein:

The first, is where a church is consecrated in a serf village, any man of that village who might be a serf in the morning becomes on that night a free man.

A second passage in the same Code of Dyfed gives it a slightly different form:
If a church be built within a serf village (taeogtref)and there be a priest offering Mass in it,and it be a burying place, such a 'tref' is free from thenceforward.

Sacrament of Confirmation

'At the end of seven years, he-the young tribesman- is to swear for his acts, for then he shall come under the hand of his Confessor, and shall take the duty of God unto himslef(Book 2 Laws of Hywel Dda-Venedotian Code)

Devout Catholic Orthodoxy of the Welsh People in Mediaeval Times

The greatest literary figure in Mediaeval Wales is Gerald the Welshman, Giralds Cambrensis-the 'father of popular literature'as Green the historian calls him. He was a most voluminous writer, and in spite of his vanity and failings as a historical critic. his works are of the greatest value for the light they throw on the religious condition of the area known as Wales.

His writings are so well known that we need not linger over his testimony. Both in his Welsh Itinary and Description of Wales he speaks very highly of the orthodoxy and devout nature of the Welsh peoples., though he is candid and outspoken about some of their failings too. In Ad 1188 he accompanied Bishop Baldwin on his crusading tour of Wales, the outstanding feature of which was that the English Archbishop celebrated Mass each of the four Welsh Cathedrals. His experience during this memorable tour enabled Gerald to see Wales and Welsh life and customs from the inside. In fact his Itinary may be justly considered the first comprehensive account of the religious condition of the Old Cymry (Welsh).

Abbot John of Whitland (Ty Gwyn ar Daf) and Abbot Seisyllt of Strata Florida (Cistercian monasteries in West Wales-Menevia)accompanied the Archbishop and all his party as guides and interpreters. Gerald speaks very highly of the religious faith and devotion of the Welsh people and of their profound reverence for the church and the priesthood.

HE refers to many points of similarity as regards ecclesiastical customs between the Welsh and Irish of that period-eg. repect for croziers, torques, trumpets and books and the use of saints bells as relics.'Nothing', he says 'contrary to the true Faith is to be found among the natives'. It is said that some parts of the ancient doctrines are retained here. They give the first piece broken off from every loaf of bread to the poor; they sit down to dinner by three to a dish in honour of the Trinity.

With stretched out arms and bowed head, they ask a blessing of every monk or priest, or of any person wearing a religious habit. But they desire above all other nations the Bishop's Confirmation and chrism, by which the Grace of the Spirit is given. They give a tenth of all their property , either when they marry or go on pilgrimage, or when, by the counsel of the Church, they are persuaded to amend their lives . But of all the pilgrimages they prefer to go to Rome, where they pay the most fervent veneration to the Apostolic See.'

We observe that they show a greater respect than other nations to churches and ecclesiastical persons; to the relics of the saints, bells, holy gospels and the Cross , which they devoutly revere; and hence their churches enjoy more than common tranquillity.

Pilgrimages to Rome

We know from the writings of contemporary bards and other sources that pilgrimages to Rome were immensely popular among the Welsh people. (Brut y Tywysogion 12,40,44, 364)In fact, on the occasion of Gerald's second visit to Rome to plead for the Welsh independence of St David's in Menevia, there were crods of pilgrims from Wales in the Holy City-'multi peregrini de Wallia'-who came forward with patriotic eagerness , prepared to hear testimony in his favour. (This was for a separate Archbishop for Wales)

The Welsh bards are our witnesses that Rome exerted an extraordinary fascination for the Welsh mind. A pilgrimage to Rome was a must for every Welsh saint and found a way into his life story.

Cynddelw- a patriotic and distinguished Welsh bard-speaks enthusiastically of the sights of Rome:

Caer Rhufain, ryfedd olygawdd!
Caer uchaf uchel ei defawd!

I will write later about pilgrimages and about Gerald the welshman and his trip through Monmouthshire. He called in at Llanthony, Abergavenny, Usk Caerleon and Newport before going on to Cardiff.

Arrest of Ulrich Schultz known as Oliver Shanti

The arrest of this man on Saturday, brought to a close a seven year search for this German Paedophile on the run in Portugal and undetected in 7 years with a £3,000 bounty on his head because of allegations of more than 1000 crimese also seems to be connected with a business site for adoption of orphans from Kazakstan. German police arrested him in Lisbon on Saturday and all are hoping that this will be the close os a possibly child trafficking. He also may possibly know of the whereabouts of Madeleine Mc Cann and other Portuguese missing Chidren-like Yeremi Vargas.Let's hope this is a breakthrough!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Caedmon-the Hymn of Praise!

For modern day pictures from Whitby-Here is a link for Nycom.

We usually speak of Gwent and Monmouthshire and South Wales. I have , however, always been fascinated from Childhood about the story of Caedmon, which was told in my Junior School Reader (in the days when positive references to Christianity were allowed in schools.)


He is the story as I remember it.

In the North of England on the seacost round about the year 675AD is a small town called Whitby. In Anglo Saxon times it was called Streonæshalch and the name changed to Whitby when it was colonised by the Danes. Most of the people who live at Whitby at that time were fishermen abd the old red houses cling to the side of the cliff and right above are the ruins of Whitby Abbey. In that little town sixhundred years or so ago, before Henry the VIII wrecked the abbeys, Whitby Abbey would stand fair and white on the cliff. Instead of the red bouses (see link above) you would see small houses made of wood. You would not have seen the Abbey as it stood in its last hours. There would have been a much smaller Abbey in the smae place and would have been a group of lower buildings of rough grey stone. This is the Abbey which forms the background to the story.

In this Abbey lived both Monks and nuns, Traditionally a woman would have been head of such a mixed house and the head of this was a wise and stely woman called Abbess Hilda.. The monks and nuns were Catholic and Christian Saxons who lived apart from other people to worhip and praise God and do good works. They were like the monks who brought up ST Oswald. All round the Abbey in those days were the huts of the men who looked after the cattle of the abbey. Each night, one of these men slept in the cattle shed to guard the cows from robbers and thieves. Below the cliff, near the mouth of the river, lived the fishermen, then as now, who caught the fish for the monks ad nuns to eat.

In those days, very few men indeed could read or write. In the long winter evenings they used to meet in one another's dwellings and there they told one another tales and sang songs and played the harp. The man who coldplay or sing the best or who could tell the best tales, soon became famous in all the countryside. Now near the Abbey of Whitby in those far off days ,lived a peasant called Caedmon. He was a herdsman of he Abbey. There was a hall belonging to the Abbey in which the men of the village used to meet and sing to the harp while they ate and drank together. They passed around a rich drink of beer and honey called mead. Each man drank in turn and when he had drunk he handed the cup on to his neighbour. After the mead-cup the harp went round and every man a, as it came to him had to sing or play something to the others. All the men of the village came to thses feasts and Caedmon came too. But when he saw it would soon be his turn to play the harp, he used to rise and slip away from the joyus fellowship, fo he had no skill at playing or singing.

Caedmon's Vision

Caedmon used to pray to Almighty GOd for ability to express himself either on the harp or in song.When it was his turn to sleep in the cattle shed one evening to guard against robbers, he left the feast again after eating, before the harp came to him and he could humilate himself trying to play it or sing. He went to the cattle shed early and lay down on the hay and went to sleep.

As he slept he dreamed that an angel came and stood by him and said'Caedmon. sing me something'. Caedmon answered 'My Lord, I cannot sing and therefore did I leave the feast' But the angel said to him 'Nevertheless, sing me something!' And Caedmon said 'What shall I sing? Then said the man, 'Sing of the beginning of all things' So Caedmon, who had never sung before sang in his dream of God's wisdom and glory and the Creation of the World.

The next morning when he woke up, he had not forgotton what he had sung in his dream but remembered all of it. Then he went to the head man of the village and told him what had happened. And the head man led him up to the abbey and the Abbess Hilda and she heard his story with great interest. She leaned forward to him and said:
'Caedmon, will you sing your song to me?' 'Indeed I will, my lady Abbess' he said. Everyone waited with bated breath, They knew Caedmon could not sing. Slowly Caedmon took breath and opened his throat, and from his mouth came a voice which was so sweet and melliflous, it rememinded them all of the sound they imagined would come from the mouth of angels on the night of the NAtivity of the Lord Jesus. She called together all the wise men of the area and the spoke to Caedmon and questioned him. Some of them read to him from the holy gospels and all they read to him turned into beautiful songs, which were quickly written down by scribes-because Caedmon could neither read nor write.

Caedmon is Honoured by the Abbess Hilda for is Gift from God


The Abbess Hilda honoured the gift of God in her poor peasant Caedmon. She persuaded him to become a monk and received him into the Abbey. So he left behind him his herdsman's job and made wonderful hymns for the monks and nuns at the abbey. These songs were about the greatness and goodness of God and about his mighty works and turned the hearts of the people into goodness. Caedmon sang about the Creation of the world, the sun, the moon the stars, the heavens and also about the Old Testament stories which foreshadow those of the New Testament. Moses leading the eople home through the Red Sea, just as Christ leads us home through the World and our fallen human state into the arms of the Father.He also made the Life of Christ into a poem.

St Hilda of Whitby is the dedication of the Anglican Church, Panteg at Griffithstown after rebuilding from the original Celtic/Saxon Norman site at Panteg,.

The Death of Caedmon

When the time came, that Caedmon felt that death was near, he asked to be taken to a nearby house.This house was part of the Abbey, called the Infirmary, where all the sick were taken. ONe night, when Caedmon had been talking cheerfully with all the other sick people there , he asked for the Priest to come and bless him with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and Viatacum.But the monks said, 'You don't need a priest yet, death is still far off' But he asked again and the priest came, heard Caedmon's confession, absolved him, annointed him with the holy oil, giving him the final Sacrament and blessed him. Caedmon said 'Will it be long before the dawn when the monks sing a morning hymn to God?' They replied 'Not Long'.Caedmon said 'Well let us await the dawn'..

Ane that morning, as the sun rose, and as all the monks began to pray mattins,Caedmon gave up his soul to God.

The only lines definately attributed to Caedmon are not lost.

Caedmon is one of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets identified in medieval sources, and one of only three for whom some contemporary biographical information and examples of poetry have survived. His story is told in the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Ecclesiastical History of the English People") by St. Bede who wrote, "[t]here was in the Monastery of this Abbess a certain brother particularly remarkable for the Grace of God, who was wont to make religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out of scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and humility in English, which was his native language. By his verse the minds of many were often excited to despise the world, and to aspire to heaven."


Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
metudæs maecti end his modgidanc
uerc uuldurfadur— sue he uundra gihuaes
eci dryctin or astelidæ
he aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe haleg scepen
tha middungeard moncynnæs uard
eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
firum foldu frea allmectig

Modern English

Now let us praise the guardian of the Heavenly Kingdom!
The Might of the Creator and the thoughts of His mind!
The glorious Father of Mankind. So He, the Eternal Lord,
Created every Wonder from the beginning.
He first made Heaven as a roof
For the children of Mankind;-he the Holy Creator.
He, the Guardian of Mankind, the Eternal God.
Afterwards, he made heaven to dwell upon.
He the Almighty God.

There are more poems, which it is believed Caedmon may have written but this can not definately be proved as such. Nevertheless it is a strong story, how beauty and praise and artistry can be found in all men, especally when God calls them.From now on, with the Saxons making inroads into Gwent right up to the year 1065 I shall be also talking about some Saxon religious topics. This story has always entranced and being a singer myself, I have always loved it.

Haut de la Garenne-Children's Home Jersey-latest news

Two more arrests have seemingly been made recently as part of the allegations into child abuse here. A 70 year old man an a 69 year old woman were being questioned over the scandal, but it is not thought that their crimes took place there. Six people have now been arrested since the inquiry began in February.More than 100 peple have now come forward to state they were abused at the home in the 1960's and 1970's . Thirty human bone fragments and 26 children's teeth have been found in secret rooms below ground by the police. This is from a report in the 'Metro' newspaper this week. God, in whose keeping they surely are, rest their souls and shine a light on the evil perpetrated by the abusers.

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.!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quiz Answers 1-20

1. Name of the Chieftain of Gwent carried off to Rome.Caractacus

2 Name of the daughter of Caractacus who was a Christian. Princess Eurgain, later named Claudia Rufina by the Emperor Claudius.

3. Name of her brother who became Pope. Linus

4. Name of 5 Rivers in Gwent Usk,Wye,Monnow,Ebbw, Rhymney.

5 Name of three important streams in Gwent Sor Brook, Afon Lwyd and the Honddu

6. Name of Bishop at the time of Martyrdom of St Julius Julianus and St Aaron.

St Amphilabus

7. Where are the present day Churches of Saints Julius and Aaron (including Anglican)

Caerleon, St Julians Road, Newport, and Heather Road, Newport.SS Julius and Aaron.

8. To which city did the Bishop flee?

Roman Verulamium or St Albans as it was later called.

9. Who helped the Bishop but was martyred himselfSt Alban the Martyr

10.On which side of Caerleon was St Aaron martyred?
St Aaron was martyred on the East side of Caerleon/

11. Where is a memorial stone to St Julius Julianus displayed?

In the Parish Church at Tredunnock.

12. Which uncle of the Blessed Virgin Mary was recorded to have come to Gwent with his family and been given land in Garthmadrun and Glastonbury?

Joseph of Arimathea

13 Who ws the famous Queen of Ynyr Gwent who went to Minster near Boscastle in Cornwal and became a Christian Missionary?

Queen Madryn, St Materiana of Tintagel and Minster, Boscastle

14. What was the difference between a White Martyrdom, a Green Martyrdom and a red Martyrdom?

A White martyrdom was giving up your life to God and going to where God led you, either on land or by sea. A Green Martyrdom is giving up your life to got on one 'island of land' with a boundary between the holy place you live and serve God and the world outside.

15. WHo was the hermit, one of the holy Brychan Brycheiniog's family who came to a remote village in the north of the county?

Ishow (Esau the Hermit=Pater Ishow)

16. What happened to him?
He was martyred by soeone to whom he gave food and shelter, doing the Will of God

17. What does 'Llan' mean?

Llan is an designated a Holy consecrated island for a holy place. It always had a curved boundary, although some have disappeared in recent times

18. Who were the Saints of Newport?

The saints of Newport were St Gwynlliw or Woolos, his wife St Gwladys, their son St Cadoc, and other sons Cynydr, their daughter Maches.

19. Name three great monastic teachers and their colleges in Gwent.

St Tatheus and Caerwent College, St Dubrigius/Dyfrig and Caerleon, St Cadoc at Nantcarfan.

20. Who killed Tewdrig, Tegfedd, Tydfil, Maches, Tecla, Cadoc.

Hot contenders were the Vikings, Danes although some people believe the Irish could be responsible for some of it.
So how did you do? See you soon!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Aelfred the Great and King Aedgar in Gwent-962 AD

King Alfred and King Edgar the Peacemaker-Two Saxon Christian Kings.


So how did the quiz go, people of Monmouthshire? I am pushed for time this week as this is my last week of exam prep! So a little piece about King Aelfred (yes Aelfred who burnt the cakes!)in Gwent, as well as King Edgar.

King Aelfred is known for burning the cakes, yet his main benefits were his own character and personality in shaping the Christian Kingdom of Wessex, when the Saxon people (who now resided in the area known as England-(Angle-Land)had been converted to the Christian Faith from their old gods.

What the Warlord Arthur had been to the Welsh earlier in the sixth century, Aelfred (pron Alfred) was to the Saxons. He built monasteries on the sites of previously British 'llans' which his forefathers had burnt. Importantly he founded colleges of learning and schools and orphanages. He codified a system of Laws-important in his kingdom which was based on peace-and implemented it. He built a strong nevy to defend the coastline (perhaps in keeping with his Saxon origins). He was a realist. He did realise in England, that the Danes would never leave Angle-land (England) and ,having built up so much in his peaceful Christian kingdom and struggled so hard, he made a deal wth the Danes, giving them a large portion of the North of England (Called the 'Danelaw') in return for leaving Wessex and the South of England free from attack (yet they were still to be attacked and defeated by the French Normans (also descendents of the Norse-men-hence their name)England was peaceful for a while, bt the Danes continued to attack South Wales. More of that anon.

The Conversion Story of the Saxons

The story of the conversion of England deserves seperate telling, as we know the bruised British tribes and priests refused, after centuries of pillaging and raping and murdering to evangelise the English. They had a tough and savage reputation, and here was Gregory the Great, the Pope insisting that they walk into the lions den and evangelise them. The Pope needed to take other steps to evanglise the English, which he did via his messenger, Augustine (later called St Augustine of Canterbury)more of this later.

So here is information from David W Oates, about Aelfred and Edgar in Gwent.

After the lapse of more than ten centuries the name of Aelfred the Great is still remembered with pride and affection. Every nation has its hero ruler, but perhaps no hero occupies so large a place in the minds and hearts of his race as the English King Aelfred. He stands for all time as the example of an ideal king., great as a leader, never unduly elated as a conqueror, the whole of his life and energy devoted to the advancement and well being of his people.

Two kings of Gwent Brochwel and Fernwal

Towards the end of his reign, so greatly did all the princes of the Britons trust him, that the two Kings of Gwent Brochwel and Fernwel turned to Alfred for protection against the Mercians. Aethelred was Aelfred's son-in-law. This we learn from Asser,the learned Welsh bishop who had fled to Aelfred for protection and who was made Bishop of Sherborne by him.

In the days of Aelfred's great grandson Aedgar (Edgar) we get a fresh light on what was happening in Gwent.

Hywel Dda(Howell the Good) and Morgan Hen(Old Morgan)

A portion of land to the North of Gwent (Glwyssing) had long been the subject of a dispute between Morgan Hen and Hywell dda who reigned over Dyfed, another Kingdom of South Wales. When Hywel died in 949, his son, Owen continued the dispute, and both Morgan and Owen prepared for war. The Bishop of Llandaff appealed to them to lay down their arms and settle the dispute by the old Welsh Law. Each king therefore chose six of his chief men to decided the matter , but, as it was their own dispute, neither of them could preside over the Assembly. They therefore called King Edgar to preside and judge between them.

The Meeting at Caerleon ca 962 AD

The court was held at Caerleon about 962 and there can be no doubt, the city made every attempt to entertain the Saxon king in a manner fitting his dignity. When he had fully investigated the matter in dispute, Edgar declared, that the judgement of the court was that the land had always belonged to Morgan Hen (Old Morgan) and that Owain had acted wrongfully in invading the district.

Increasing friendship with the Saxons

So toawards the close of the tenth century , we begin to catch glimpses of a kinder and more friendly feeling and a growing interaction between Welsh and Saxons , which was the inevitable result of acommon foe in the Danes and a now common religion'.

from 'The Story of Gwent' by David W. Oates, published in 1930's by Cardiff Publishing Company.

My Weekend

Anyway,on Friday I did my usual stint of teaching and all day Saturday. My choir from Cwmbran are competing in the World Choir Olympics at Graz in Austria next month. It was quite gruelling. I have some little tots of eight years to eleven years and am astouned by the tenacity of them in learning to alto 2 parts. The rest of the choir is shaping well now (although it is wearing me out) Curiously I handed out copies of 'On the Blue Danube' to them and they loved it-even when I suggested that they learn the end in German.(an introduction to some Autrian Music) They are modern kids but SO loving the classical pieces we sing in the choir.

On Saturday afternoon from 4-4.30 I have the youngest ones for half an hour for extra help. They are lovely children-the older girl very confident. The little boys are lovely too, but (naturally at this age0-they are younger than the girl have a narrower attention span) and keeping them focused on some difficult must not easy- but possible with a lot of clowning around (by me) and their own motivation.One is desperately waiting for a kidney transplant and made his First Communion last year. I saw him in the procession at Corpus Christi in Llantarnam Abbey.Dan is a lovely enthusiastic child, full of energy (sometimes too exuberant in the singing!) but a keen and gifted soccer player.Angharad is very motivated and her mother ex[pecting two boy twins later this year. They worked very hard and I was amazed at how good the German became at the end of the session. Drove off then and watched 'Dr Who' at my mother's house , where we had tea.

Yesterday there was a big Choir rehearsal with some older girls who understandibly needed to prioritise their GCSE's. A recording team arrived to record the choir as well which was an added pressure (although good of them!) because all those awkward little corners to deal with had to be dealt with quickly. I had ot practised the piano part sufficiently well of one of the pieces.It was written for harp and I scraped my fingers trying to do 'glissandi'in the scale of Ab with all those black notes. The plus side is that it was a real, in tune piano rather than a keyboard (albeit a good one) which I loathe. When they had sung the Russian song five times (someone had coughed , someone else scraped their foot, a parent walked in and footsteps were recorded etc etc.they were very tired and pleased when another parent returned with all the MAcdonalds. Well to be fair, these are kids for whom a Macdonalds are a treat, rather than a regular thing) In two weeks we are having our last major rehearsal and then having a big barbie in my sister's huge garden before going to Graz.

Madeleine McCann

Please continue to pray for Madeleine. I understand there have been hundreds of new leads and so forth, which it appears were not originally followed up. There may also have been somethings which were important and not followed up. I guess we may never know the full story, with such powerful international agencies involved, this is no ordinary abduction so there is every hope she will return.

Bridgend Suicides


The Sunday Express yesterday carried a story about mobile phone masts being responsible for the suicides at Bridgend? Are there no mobile phone masts anywhere else then??? However, on reading the article a professor Cogshill has stated that Bridgend has a high number of mobile phone masts close.Some of the twenty suicides (bridgend has been called the suicide capitol of the world after twenty young people have killed themselves since Christmas. Below is the link for the professor's story, which is interesting and thought provoking.

Schism in the Anglican Church

There was a strong piece on the front page of the Telegraph yesterday about important Bishops not attending the Lambeth Conference. As a Catholic, I can feel only sadness that people who should be obedient to Biblical and Church teachings are not and in themselves are working not for the Kingdom of Heaven, but for its downfall.As Eve and Adam were thrown out of Eden for disobedience, they continue the trend interpreting things for themselves which are quite clearly out of step. The Christian religion is not a political party which can promise everything to everyone. There is discipline involved. Everyone carries their cross.We can'tknow the reason,but if you are a genuine Christian, your thoughts and mind should be on Christ and his Apostles' teaching of his teaching and not on what you would like to happen.The Pope is right to excommunicate the bishops who consecrated the women 'prests'._St Margaret of Scotland and Our Lady

Women's key role in the Church


Hard as this decision was for the Church, and it is agonising, Christ did not desire this. He would have consecrated his own blessed Mother,and St Mary Magdalene (his disciple who with the other Mary was in the Upper Room at Pentecost)Both women evangelised until their dying day-Mary MAgdalene for another thirty years in Baume in the Massif central in France, where she had gone with St Philip, and Joseph of Arimathea who went on to Wales (Britain then)All three Marys went on preaching until their dying day and now St Mary Magdalene is buried at the shrine there, guarded over by Domenican Brothers.

Our Lady and St John at the foot of the Cross

My point is there are so many Catholic Saints who are women and made a huge difference to the Kingdom of God, and they, and the millions of Catholic women who have carried the Catholic faith on through the ages-with their bright-eyed sons and beautiful daughters.There are the great women mystics-Julian of Norwich, Theresa of Avila (Doctor of the Church) Therese of Lisieux with her 'Little Way'-the little 'tiny unremembered acts of kindness and of love'(Wordsworth) and the tiny things which go to make up the support mechanism for the human race. It is we women who create the love, wo pass it on, who sacrifice, who 'keep everything together'when disaster strikes. Then there is the Blessed Mother herself, who died at Ephesus , far from the land of her birth, but secure in her future.The priesthood is one area where Christ wanted men to do the consecration of the host-so how can anyone change it, just because people may feel driven to do it.Here is a picture of St Margaret of Antioch who stuck up for the Woman's right to choose to be celibate and follow Christ. There was an important shrine to her at Caerwent in the Middle Ages-Marged Sant.

The issue with two priests wanting to 'marry', is that in just wanting this ceremony for themselves, they have been disobedient to Biblical teaching and the handed down teaching of the Apostles. The teaching is, that the act itself is sinful adultery, which is having sex with someone , not your husband or wife of the opposite sex. The act is regarded as a disorder.Many people of this persuasion understand this and attend Mass regularly. They try to overcome it. I have to say most of the people I have known that are like this, have been generous, loving, understanding and caring and people I am proud to call friends.Moreover the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available £8 in paperback from Amazon)teaches that people with his problem are not to be discriminated against, as they have their part to play in the Salvation Plan of the Almighty.

The sin remains wrong, but sins can be confessed, and absolved if people accept the discipline of belonging to the Body of Christ. The problem comes when people form a Civil Partnership, when they are trying to declare the teaching of Christ and his church wrong.Theresimply is no authority for changing the teaching of Christ, and his desire for purity and holiness, when people make up their own morlity and then try to bludgeon everyone else into accepting it. Real Christians will understand that WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN GOD, AND HIS CHRIST and THE HOLY SPIRIT. It is not a set piece for respectibility, but we actually fear the consequences of going against the teaching of Christ, and our own fancies and wishes cannot come into this. Men and women have always had people they cared about of the same sex , comrades in the trenches, but it does not mean they wanted to have sex with them-and this is the crucial point.

When the two vicars went through this ceremony, I've no doubt it was meaningful and precious to them but what they have done has immensely damaged the Anglican Church, which is staggering as it is. People have no respect for a church which is not clearly teaching the gospel. Rev Nazir Ali is right to call this disobedience into question and the vicars ought to mull over very seriously what they have done.We seem to be undergoing some sort of persecution at the moment, and this is the wrong time to be lobbing shots at any church. I undestand fro the video and reports below that the African Anglicans are 'going it alone', finally losing patience.

In the Bible, Matthew Ch 18 v15-18 gives the Authority for the Catholic Church's teaching on the subject.'If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, whatever the misdemeanour , the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain the charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the Church, and if he reuses to listen to the Church, treat him like a gentile or tax collector.

In truth I tell you , whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven'.

Some people say that the references to homosexuality in the Bible-pretty spectacular in Genesis, are only contained in Paul's letters.

Yet what was in the Holy Scriptures was not everything in the Church teaching
. The Catholic Church made the Bible and formed it. St Paul was three years after his Damascene Conversion learning from the Apostles the teachings of Christ. Christ explained things seperately and in detail to his Apostles. St Peter, our first Pope actually preached on this and it was written down by his scribe and disciple Mark in Chapter 4 verse 33 on the use of parables to teach the multitudes. So Peter hmslef must have said:

'Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it.He would not speak to them except in parables,

but he explained everything to his disciples when they were by themselves.'

This 'in depth' teaching was the teaching Paul would have received in those three years from the Apostles when he was with them after his Baptism.

Adam and Eve destroyed their Garden of Eden through disobedience.Is it now the turn of people who call themselves servants of their flocks to do the same for their church and make up their own variations of the gospel. It would have been more prudent if they had to do this to resign and go through such a service elsewhere where it would not cause such embarassment and hurt to the church, which cannot change its policies like a political party.

Trying to weld together this split church will be immensely difficult for Dr Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.It is very sad for them.We have to realise we are all disobedient and sinners and put the wounds into Christ.We all need salvation, and 'feeling comfortable with it' is not good enough if you are a genuine follower of Christ. Video below.

Full story is here...

This link is not working so go to then to UK News then to Leading Anglican Bishops to boycott Lambeth Conference over gay clergy.
Sorry folks.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Monmouthshire and the Land of Gwent

Upper Cwmbran at Bluebell time
Goldcliff Priory Site at Sunset


Extract from 'The Land of Gwent'

To Thee , brave Gwent , praise alone doth belong
Thou n'er wore chains, impatient were of wrong
When Saxons, Danes and Normans Britain swayed
Thou scorned the servile yoke on others laid;
With courage great most bravely did maintain
Thy rights so long enjoyed. May they remain.

by David W.Oates

There is no county in the British Isles richer in historical lore than Monmouthshire, and no district has a more complete and interesting story to reveal than the territory of Gwent. On many grounds, the traces of Goidelic or Brythonic celts roll back the mists of ages and set us in the company of these people of the far dim past. The story thus opens long before history came to be written.

The Ancient Kingdom of Gwent, which speaking roughly, comprised the county of Monmouthshire, derived its name from an ancient British word meaning 'fair', the district being known as 'The Fair Land' from its wealth of natural beauty. It was formed of three distinct regions, Lower Gwent (Gwent Iscoed-Gwent below the (Went)Wood,and Upper Gwent (GGwent Ichoed (Gwent above the (Went)Wood,the boundary between the two being a vast expanse of forest stretching from the Usk at Caerleon, to the River Wye. Then there was Blaenau Gwent, the mountains, which extended towards Brecon containing the villages of Mynyddislwyn, Bedwellty and the towns of Tredegar and Ebbw Vale.

The Romans knew the district by the Latin name 'Siluria'because the British tribe inhabiting the area were the Silures. The boundaries of Gwent and Siluria were very indefinite but it is believed that Siluria embraced a greater sdistrict of land than Gwent. The name Siluria fell into disuse after the Romans were driven out, the natives preferring the British name, which remained in use until the formation of the County of Monmouth by a statute of Henry VIII. Today the name Siluria is preserved in history alone, but the name Gwent recalls a thousand memories to the mind of every Welshman and fills him with a sense of pride in his glorious past.

Long after the enforced union with the English crown the kings laws did not prevail within its boundaries, and fugitives from English justice could find refuge in it, until the reign of Henry VIII. Many English monarchs knew its hills and woodlands almost as well as they knew Windsor Park. No territory in the country could have been more important than 'this old frontier between the king's earls and the semi independent turbulent Lords of the March.'

As we wander among these hills to which the sky can stoop so tenderly and the cornfields climb, the eye falls everywhere upon some spot renowned in tradition or famed in history. Such woods and vales , enchanted shores,mysterious mountains , grassy slopes, are nowhere found outside this land of beauty, virtue and valour.

O charmed realm! O storied scene!
What echoes whisper by your tide!
What memories mingle in your stream
Of lives that here have breathed and died,
Of lips whose unforgotten lays
Made Beauty lovelier by they praise!

Here caractacus held his court:here the Praetor deposited the Roman Eagle and dealt out justice in the name of Caesar; here Britons,Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans triumphed in their turn, while the valiant chiefs and Kings of Wales , and the brave Princes of Gwent fought resolutely side by side.

To this land in its happy dawn, the light of Christianity came, and left ineffaceable traces of learning, virtue and piety.Indeed so full of incident is each period in its history that it is doubtful if any other district in the British Isles possesses a more interesting past than that of Gwent.1930's

To this David Oates writes in his 'Preface'

Children grasp incidents of the history of their own county with deeper and more intelligent interest, than events which happened in places unfamiliar to them; their historical imagination, therefore can be most effectively cultivated by recalling the doings of forgotten heroes of the district in familiar places that can be visited , as this makes a more vivid appeal to the chld than the vague doings of unrealised kings and statesmen can possibly do. From such a treatment of history too,have we the greatest hope of fostering a fervid and reasonable civic patriotism , for a man is ill prepared to think, to dream and to work for his country or city until it has become a reality to him and a vivid and understanding knowledge of its present can be best obtained by a continuous and intelligent picture of its past.

Well there is is-how true, especially for our children whose study of our history seems locked in the study of the Wars of the twentieth century (in case anyone should have such nationalist identy.

A Quiz

Can you answer all these questions from my blog?

1. Name of the Chieftain of Gwent carried off to Rome.
2. Name of the daughter of Caractacus who was a Christian.
3. Name of her brother who became Pope.
4. Name of 6 Rivers in Gwent U_____,W_____,M_______,E________R________.
5 Name of three important streams in Gwent

6. Name of Bishop at the time of Martyrdom of St Julius Julianus and St Aaron.
7. Where are the present day Churches of Saints Julius and Aaron (including Anglican)
8. To which city did the Bishop flee?
9. Who helped the Bishop but was martyred himself?
10.On which side of Caerleon was St Aaron martyred?

11. Where is a memorial stone to St Julius Julianus displayed?
12. Which uncle of the Blessed Virgin Mary was recorded to have come to Gwent with his family and been given land in Garthmadrun and Glastonbury?
13 Who ws the famous Queen of Ynyr Gwent who went to Minster near Boscastle in Cornwal and became a Christian Missionary?
14. What was the difference between a White Martyrdom, a Green Martyrdom and a red Martyrdom?
15. WHo was the hermit, one of the holy Brychan Brycheiniog's family who came to a remote village in the north of the county?

16. What happened to him?
17. What does 'Llan' mean?
18. Who were the Saints of Newport?
19. Name three great monastic teachers and their colleges in Gwent.
20. Who killed Tewdrig, Tegfedd, Tydfil, Maches, Tecla, Cadoc.

21. Name six 'llans' of importance in Gwent.(English names will do)
22. Brythonic Celts were in two other places besides Wales-where?
23. Where was 'Armorica'?
24. What is the name of the Holy Mountain of Gwent?
25. Where is it?

26. Where were St Dials and St Derfyls chapel to be found?
27. Which Gwent monastery was linked the the Shrine at Our Lady of Penrhys?
28. When is the annual three day walk from Llantarnam to Penrhys carried out?
29. What does a Pelican represent in early Catholic symbolism?
28. The serpent is usually portrayed as of the devil. In Celtic illuminated gospels
this has a different meaning. What is it, and which other animal has the same
29. Where did Gwent people go on pilgrimage in Celtic times?
30 What was the purpose of the holy wells? Name the saint who gave her name to a
famous one at Trellech, called 'The Virtuous Well'.

31 Which Gwent Churches are named after St Cadoc?(name two) St Sannan, St Tegfedd,
St Illtyd, St Woolos, St Mary (name one), St Michael and All Angels (name one)St
Teilo, St Basil

32 Name two forests in Gwent.
33. Where did Tewdrig fight his battle against the Saxons?
34 What was a Green Man (look at post on Llangwm)
35. What did St Woolos (Gwynlliw Sant see in his dream? Where can you see this in a
36. Who was the famous Bishop of Caerleon in the time of St Woolos or Gwynlliw?

Hope you have a bit of fun with these. I would print them out and be ready for the answers tomorrow or Saturday. Good Luck! All the Answers are in the blog posts! I'm going to continue with the sixth century a little longer and then move on to the Saxon challenge.

You can email me with your suggestions at

Results of the Quiz I think on Sunday-give you time to do it.

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apologies to All!

Hello Everyone! I have hit a very busy few days at the moment because of training people for exams, and this week particularly has been busy. I was in London on Monday and in Wales last night and am really tired this morning. I shall probably paste something a bit more substantial tomorrow when I have time off in the morning!
So I'll be back soon. In the meantime, those interested in St Cadoc, can you have a look at the link on the LHS to Llangattock Lingoed.

St Julius Julianus of Caerleon Inscribed Stone Developments

I have heard back from the Gwent Record Office re-the person who can help me with the location of the bones of St Julian at Tredunnock , where the inscribed tombstone is situated.More interesting the pathway from the river to theChurch is called Via Juliana so we may find something here.Again, it needs time and a visit. Still only in the last phase of the exams.

There are various places I would love to visit, but the middle of a fuel crisis is not the time. If anyone reading has photos of any of these places I would be grateful. I am hoping to make a pilgrimage to St Winefride's Well soon and praying for help with my leg, but want all strikes etc. to be over.

Madeleine McCann

It seems that Gerry and Kate are in Strassbourg (Twinned with Leicester) to talk to politicians about the Europe Wide Amber Alert System for missing children. I hope they are successful and that they find Madeleine very soon.In spite of all searches there is no body and that can only be good.

Bridgend Suicides

It seems a friend of one of the ast victims has died mysteriously on holiday by falling off a balcony. I wonder whether it is time to have some sort of exorcism. This can't be right that so many have died, seemingly people who have not been depressed or have any reason to do this terrible thing.

My Son the Eco Warrior

My son is driving me mad. He has gone made recycling etc and I have stuff all over the place. He comes in and tells us off if we have not put the rubbish in the correct baskets and then sifts through everything. I must add I have been recycling for yonks with separate bins for the paper and for plastics and tins. I now have a smelly bin for waste food etc at the back. Actually I could cope if he did not talk ALL the time about global warming, which both alarms and bores me. Unfortunately there comes a time when you are past caring!

Now he has started doing washing with eco washing powder!!!He has got fabric conditioner though. My delicious Heinz Baked beans are now Organisc beans with the taste taken out.My husband and myself feel we are being taken over. Luckily he is nice and kind and still at 16 goes to Mass, so I hope it is a phase. What I would like is that he would do all the recycling but not talk about it all the time. Perhaps it was a mistake to get him to do GCSE Geography.......................

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Food for thought.. Do we need St Michael and his Flaming Sword?

I was very upset this weekend to hear of the Welsh girl Manon Jones , only 18 years old, who died after trying to induce an abortion for a six week baby. She was a Christian girl who had become besotted with a boyfriend of another faith, and while away from homeat university embarked on an affair and become pregnant. There seemed to be problems because the family of the man, of a different faith wanted to bring up the baby. Her mother said 'Manon found it very hard to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy. She wanted to keep the child but there were difficult circumstances which she had to consider with her boyfriend's family and their Muslim religion'.The Inquest came up this week.

Manon took the first dose of medication on June 10 2005 and the second two days later. Her mother said,'She was very scared and I tried to reassure her. It was a very emotional experience for us both. After the desired result had happened, Manon complained of feeling light headed and heavy bleeding. On June 15th her boyfriend took her back to Southmead hospital for a scan, which she was told was 'normal'Four days later ,she left for a holiday abroad but she cut it short as she felt so unwell and on June 23rd returned to Bristol which she admitted herself to Southmead Hospital.

When her mother arrived, Manon was already in intensive care, following seizures and cardiac arrest, Doctors took the decision to turn off her life support on June 27th. A doctor told the inquest a post mortem examination had revealed the student died of hypovolemia, an abnormal decrease in blood volume and shock caused by the 'retained products of conception'-the unborn child> Another doctor who had first treated her when she returned to hospital said she was talking coherently and bleeding was minimal.Manon had to wait four hours for a blood transfusion but it was too late when it arrived. The coroner said her case was the 'saddest case he had ever heard in forty years'The boyfriend refused to comment, but his brother said 'He is a good kid. He made a mistake.'

How terribly sad that she opted for this course and that such a young beautiful girl and her child have been lost. Rest in peace, both of you.

Two priests go through a form of 'marriage'

The other thing which I picked up in the paper was two Anglican Clergymen have staged a gay marriage service in the Church of St Bartholomew the Great in Lond, complete with bridesmaids,confetti and a huge cake.The Anglican Bishop of Winchester has said 'Can we stand for clear teaching or are we powerless in the face of these actions?' A big problem for them.What authority is there to appeal to?

The Anglican Bishop of Rochester has written in the Telegraph about Hazel Blears one of the government ministers discounting any positive correlation between religious conviction and civil committment in a recent report 'Moral but no compass' commissioned by the A of E. He writes 'This will be news to the thousands who seek to serve their communities, anonymously and humbly because of their Christian faith.'

He highlights the extent of what Christians do in the comunity, volunteers in hospitals, prisons, counselling services, refuges, soup kitchens, food runs to London, etc etc. Their belief is the reasons that thousands volunteer for tasks for no pay, knowing they are doing the will of their Heavenly Father.

The report says the government are concentrating on 'minority religions' which means actually Islam, as members of many other faiths also claim of neglect because of this government 'focus'. Most people in this country are at least nominally Christian and many more active communicant members of the Church. The Bishop puts forward the question'Will extremism be combated by concentrating on a single faith, or will it be better fought by proper attention to all faiths? The Government should be putting its resources wherever civil societyis being strengthened, where people are working for social inclusion , where the needs of the most vulnerable are being met. Every faith community deserves recognistion if it is engaged with the wider community in these ways. Some of the factors that have led to extremism-such as social segregation and 'parallel lives'-have to an extent been brought about by policies of successive governments and local authorities in matters such as housing and schooling, and the promotion of multiculturalism at the expense of national and community integrity'. This is an interesting article.It really shows how Christians are being completely ignored, our good news and committment being completely ignored, or wishes being ignored. He writes that we never have and never will be a wholly secular democracy. Our national life and institutions are based on Christian principles. He writes 'I am anavid student of the ways in which the Christian faith has produced the values of human liberty, equality and liberty for the country. The Enlightement took up those themes and made them integral to social and political development. We should not exchange this heritage for a 'mess of pottage'of unknown taste and after effects.

In todays @Sunday Telegraph'

Latin Mass for Every Parish

It seems the extraordinary rite of the Mass is to be introduced into every parish.According to the Telegraph The Pope wishes both masses to be offered side by side. All Seminaries will be required to teach trainee priests to celebrate both forms and Catholic congregations worldwide will receive instruction on how to understand the service.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos ,speaking for Pope Benedict XVI was asked whether the Latin Rite would be celebrated in many parishes, he said 'all parishes'.So the Pope is seemingly further promoting the former Mass . He spoke as he prepared to celebrate a Tridentine service at Westminster Cathedral, the first time a Cardinal has done this in forty years. I think this is because there is reluctance perhaps by priests to provide this Mass for those who desire it, and difficulties in providing it, whilst the older priesthood have not been taught it.

Prayers are sought this Sunday,

For the repose of the Soul of Pat, faithful friend.
For MAry struggling against dsease.
For the Parents of Madeleine McCann and for Madeleine. For all parents who have had children stolen by evil peeople.
For the people of China and Burma, of Zimbabwe.
For Manon Thomas and her child, and for the mother of Manon.
For all those who defend the Christian Church.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Podcast today about Trevethin Church

Today I uploaded a new Podcast about Trevethin Church in Pontypool. On reading the 'Life of St Cadoc' there is a story of Cadoc himself coming into the Country ruled over the Petty King Poul at a place called Nant poul. Cadoc is described as being a prince of their own country-ie the country of Gwynlliw and so this could not be Nantcarvan in Glamorgan and the description is very similar to the Llan at Trevethin, which may originally have been called Llangattock(the Llan of Cadoc) juxta Trevethin. I consider the holy secrets and rituals for founding such a Celtic monastic settlements, how they would have worshipped and so forth. Then I talk about the magnificent stained glass of the church (see pictures on the blog below). To get this programme click n the link to the right and then click on the earphones icon-or just down load from iTunes. A slightly longer podcast today as I am very short of time and have wrenched my knee geting out of the car! OUch! The doctor at the hospital told me to rest it! Some hope! But an early night would be good!

Please , if you have an interesting site near you please email me at sending an mp3 file telling me about it, and I'll play it on the next podcast!
Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some insights into the Holy Grail, St Peter and the Family of Brychan


St Joseph of Arimathea by Pietro Perugino


Brychan'Brycheiniog,holiest family in Wales


In 71AD: Joseph "Ha-Rama-Theo", the desposynic prince, one of Jesus’ kinsmen (Mt. 13:55), was given an estate in Britain by the British King Arvcviragus (brother of Caractacus) that comprised 160 acres of land [= “one hide”] surrounding an old hill-fort as his residence, which estate was raised in status to a kingdom, Garthmadrun, by the Roman Emperor Maximus in AD 383. What makes this more credible is that Joseph accompanied the Roman Emperor Vespasian during his British campaign, and was given an estate in Britain by the British King Archiviragus, which came to be called "Garthmadrun", and, his descendants are called in the Welsh "Triads" one of the "three holy families" of Britain.

Joseph was a successful dealer in tin and spent a great deal of time in Cornwall, importing it) Whilst leaving with this kinsmen and women, he would have had this property available after Christ’s Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, and probably left a colony at Garthmadrun. Joseph was Mary’s Uncle and so it is reasonable to suppose the family could be ancestors of some of our Welsh saints, particularly Gwynlliw and Cadoc, David and Padarn as well as Cybi.Then there is Madrun (Materiana)of Gwent and Cornwall, and Ishow (Welsh for Esau)

Did twelve hermits go off and found Glastonbury?

William of Malmesbury writing in mediaeval times, did write that Joseph and his family arrived via Wales to found the Kingdom in Britain at the behest of St Philip and St Peter. Joseph had provided the tomb for our Lord after the Crucifixion. They would have arrived with wives and family and extended family and probably left these under the protection of some elders at Garthmadrun while they went on to found Glastonbury. If they came to Wales, they probably arrived at Caerleon, the flourishing Roman fort at this time, right next to Caractacus’ hill fort, which gave Romans such a problem later on.

What is true is that this family of Joseph was particularly revered, because of its links with Mary’s family. In the genealogies there are many Jewish names, and in the lives of the Saints for example.Gwynlliw (and hence Cadoc) is meant to have some of the blood of the kinsmen of Christ according to Cybi’s pedigree, who lists Fallach, son of Eugien son of Erddolen, Avillad, Amlech,Belim, Anna-the cousin of the Virgin Mary.

When I first red this, I smiled. It seemed the holy monks of the eleventh century wanted to give a glorious pedigree to Wales’ greatest saints. Then I discovered the chronologies of these kings. Records show Joseph did die in Britain.The cluster of Jewish names in the Welsh records might lend credence to this, although it has always been held in legend.

In fact there is even a source that Christ’s Apostle Simon the Zealot was martyred in Britannia in 74AD, but I am trying to trace this at the moment.

St David and St Patrick in Glastonbury

St Patrick visited Glastonbury (Ynys Witrin) and set up a ‘llan’ there as the original twelve had remained hermits and Patrick was newly trained and ordained. Interestingly St Patrick was the Son of Sucatus, also of this line of Joseph of Arimathea.He set up the foundation again, according to the developing church. He was also a literate man, and wrote Latin, whereby we have some texts from this period. St David also arrived there later.
St David died at St David’s but Patrick may have been buried at Glastonbury. Obviously the place where the first Church in Britain had been built was sacred and remained so. So where did all the other disciples go? They probably did go to Talgarth (Garthmadrun) . Joseph’s direct line became extinct in the male-line in AD 481, and his family was replaced in official Welsh records by the descent-line of Joseph of Arimathea.

St Gwladys of Newport (glass from St Woolos Cathdral)


Here is a family tree I found for Brychan

02. Jasna "Piliste" [his nickname refers to his place of origin in "Palestine"], son, bro of Josue El-Harami
03. Sarclotus, son
04. Emanuel "Erise", son
05. Enciede (Encride) "Ere", son
06. Othrac, son
07. Maxime, son
08. Llebryn (Luibuirne), son
09. Kornodd (Cornuithe), son
10. Mouric, son

11. Ottaviano, son
12. Marchudd, son
383 AD 13. Gwrthryw, 1st King of Garthmadrun (383), son, bro of Oidisse (Odissus), father of Photaighe (Potitus), father of Calpinn (Calpurnius), father of Succat[us],

( aka Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland 457-493)

14. Gwraldeg (Gwroldeg), son
15A Morfydd (Morvitha), dau, heiress & co-ruler
15B Teithfall (Teichfallt; Teithwalch ; Taith[w]al) (Tudwal), husband, co-ruler
16. Teuduric (Teithrin), son
17A Marchell, dau, heiress & co-ruler
17B Anllach, husband, co-ruler
Yr 481: Brychan, 1st King of Brecon [Brycheiniog; Brecknockshire]
son of Prince Anllach of Galloway [whose mother was an Irish princess] and Marchell of Garthmadrun, its heiress; succeeded his grandfather as King of Garthmadrun but re-named the kingdom after himself as Brycheiniog, also called Brecon.

The Holy Grail

The early history of the Grail is intimately connected with the story of Joseph of Arimathea. When he is cast into prison by the Jews, Christ appears to him and gives him the vessel, through which he is miraculously sustained for forty-two years, until liberated by Vespasian. The Grail is then brought to the West, to Britain, either by Joseph and Josephes, his son (Grand St. Graal), or by Alain one of his kin (Robert de Boron). Peredur locates it, achieves the quest; and after the death of its keeper the Grail vanishes.

It was conceived as the most precious relic,the cup which had contained the life blood of the Lord Jesus. Of course it was held to have miraculous powers (probably the vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, only given to the pure in heart, which Peredur was meant to be)
The legend was that The angels who remained neutral during the rebellion of Lucifer were its first guardians; then it was entrusted to Joseph who brought it to Britain-Glastonbury, and possibly-the Abbot Collen brought it to Castell Dinas Bran for safekeeping, rather than let it fall into Saxon hands.


This is a wooden chalice such as it may have appeared, but is of more modern date.

Wolfram von Eschenbach calls this mons salvationis or silvaticus (Munsalwaesche in Middle High German)and this would definitely fit the bill at Castell Dinas Bran, an old Iron Age Hill fort in a remote area of Wales, well protected and later fortified even more.

The Grace of God meant that ancient Britain was converted to the Christian Faith and the family’s input very strengthening to Christianity in Wales particularly, which for many years was spared the rampages of the Saxons of the pagan type-though later they became exemplary Christians.
There are, in the stories some Celtic cultural emblems and symbols as you would expect in a tradition not written down until much later. The Catholic encyclopaedia says of it, that the Catholic Church at the time had nothing to say about Joseph’s arrival in Britain. The story is, after all contained not in Apostolic written material, but the apocraphal Gospel of Nicodemus which was popular in Britain in the 12th century. The Church had an uphill struggle in maintaining the consistant biblical teaching of the Apostolic times .

The Catholic Church had decided on the books of the Bible and what sould be included was only what was in the experience of Jesus twelve apostles themselves, see Catechism of the Catholic Church (paperback from Amazon)

Why the Church did not Comment on the Grail stories

So the Church has not endorsed this as part of the canon of the Bible and it is not 100% reliable, but remains a source of tales and legend. We know more facts now now. That there was a first century mud and wattle church at Glastonbury for instance, as I believe St Patrick alluded to it. The monks at Glastonbury had revered it, and bewailed the fact it had been burnt down.

Blessed Sacrament- a holy relic to be revered

The religious element in the story is fundamental. We read how Joseph, whom the Jews had imprisoned, is miraculously fed by Christ Himself (the Holy Blood). The food vessel can be explained in the holy consecrated bread, later to be a wafer which gives the Body and Blood to the Faithful .Joseph escapes sails for Wales by St Peter and Philip from Jerusalem. Joseph had been there before we believe with Vespasian and had dealt in tin in Cornwall and Wales and had land there. Legend has it St Patrick was buried at Glastonbury and so was Arthwr and Gwenhwyfar his wife, his tombstone being discovered there in the twelfth century.

Saint Collen of Glastonbury is relocated with the brothers to Llan-Gollen because of Civil War and Saxon Threat.

In 519 AD, under the military leader, Arthur’s protection, the community of the descendents of Joseph were relocated from Garthmadrun north to a more secure place, namely Castell Dinas Bran in North Wales at Llangollen. Interestingly St Collen, who was their pastor and Bishop was also Abbot of Glastonbury, itself threatened by Caelin at this time, the Saxon Prince.

Many British kings seemed unable to get their act together and possibly Arthur (the real one, not the lengendary one!) thought they would be more secure here. Joseph and his descendents were known as ‘Grail Kings’ in Wales’ and Cadoc himself was one of the Guardians.

Unity in the Church upon St Peter whom Christ appointed to be the custodian of his Church.

Why it is not mentioned or commented on by the Church in the interests of Unity.
It is plausible that the Grail too-if Joseph had it- was removed for safekeeping during this troubled time and then kept in a secret place in Wales near Llan-gollen by Guardians responsible for its safety. No clerical authors mention it. Unfortunately all the fantastical and magical tales which had been woven around it had sensationalised it contained unchristian symbols and symbolic magic of which the church could not approve.
Druids connected it with the ‘Cauldren of Anwyn’ the amazing source of all visions. Yet Lewis Spence, in his book ‘The Mysteries of Britain’ goes on to say:that later members of the bardic classes were mostly Christians, who had accepted the Body and Blood of Christ as the highest development of Druidism, giving the worthy believer direct access to heaven, just as the Cauldron of Anwyn would give them visions of heaven.

The Central Message of the Kingdom must not be obscured.

In my book, actually achieving heaven by the receiving into your body of the Body of Christ and becoming an adopted son or daughter of God himself and an heir to paradise was more satisfying and something which made life worthwhile. The Druids themselves had always believed in an Otherworld after death, so Christ’s promise was an extension of that, and included all the strength of family life of the ancient Britons, (the ‘llans’ or ‘clans’-families as the building blocks of the Mystical Body of Christ) The important thing for the Church was the building of the Body of Christ, by its members, joined together by the Mass, the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ and establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The holy cup was undoubtedly a treasured relic of the church and subject of veneration, however.
The issue of Unity-would this create a gulf between Rome and its British arm?

The importance of Peter among the Apostles and to Christ as the leader of the Church.

There was an issue of the importance of the Unity of the Church, which was founded on St Peter, not St Joseph of Arimathea, who had, in obedience, been sent to Britain by St Philip and Peter. In the interests of unity these amazing hair raising stories should not detract from the even more amazing supernatural central truth , the growth of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Body of Christ growing upon the efforts of St Peter and the Church Christ founded upon him .

Among the Twelve Apostles, Peter became conspicuous.

Though of irresolute character, he clings with the greatest fidelity, firmness of faith, and inward love to the Saviour; rash alike in word and act, he is full of zeal and enthusiasm, though he is endearingly human and easily scared, sometimes bewildered. The more prominent the Apostles become in the Bible narrative, the more conspicuous Peters appear as the first among them. In the list of the Twelve on the occasion of their solemn call to the Apostolate, not only does Peter stand always at their head, but the surname Petrus given him by Christ is especially emphasized (Matthew 10:2): "Duodecim autem Apostolorum nomina haec: Primus Simon qui dicitur Petrus. . ."; Mark 3:14-16:

Jesus said 'You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

What did Jesus say?

Jesus asked his apostles : "Whom do men say that the Son of man is?" The Apostles answered: "Some John the Baptist, and other some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets". Jesus said to them: "But whom do you say that I am?" Simon said: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God".

And Jesus replied: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter [Kipha, a rock], and upon this rock [Kipha] I will build my church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven". Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21).

Peter-Simon's new name , was Petros-The Rock

By the word "rock" Jesus cannot have meant himself, but Peter, as is so much more apparent in Aramaic. He wishes to make Peter the head of the whole community of those who believed in Him as the true Messiah; that through this foundation (Peter) the Kingdom of Christ would be unconquerable; that the spiritual guidance of the faithful was placed in the hands of Peter, as the special representative of Christ.
This meaning becomes clearer when we remember that the words "bind" and "loose" are not metaphorical, but Jewish legal terms. It is also clear that the position of Peter among the other Apostles and in the Christian community was the basis for the Kingdom of God on earth, that is, the Church of Christ. Peter was personally installed as Head of the Apostles by Christ Himself. This foundation created for the Church by its Founder could not disappear with the person of Peter, but was intended to continue and did continue (as actual history shows) in the primacy of the Church and its bishops to Benedict today.


This was why in the early days the Grail is not commented upon by Church writers. Unity was the most important thing of all to the church. There was no internet, no telephone, no satellites. It was important the Faithful should focus on the Truth of the real message of the Kingdom. The original teaching of Christ had to reach through the centuries intact.

Extract from Peter’s First Letter to early Christians

As Peter writes his instructions in his first letter to the churches, Bishops and Priests,

+From Peter,
Apostle of Jesus Christ ,
to all those aliens (means ‘temporary citizens of the world)living among gentiles of Pontus, Galatia, Capadocia,Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen, by the foresight of the father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled by his blood. Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

I urge the presbyters among you (priests)as a fellow Presbyter and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and as one who is to have a share of the glory to be revealed, give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you, watch over it, not simply as a duty , but gladly as God wants, not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it

Do not ‘lord it’ over the group in your charge, but be an example to the flock .When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be given the unfading crown of Glory’.In the same way, younger people,be subject to the elders. Humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly, because God opposes the proud but accords his favour to the humble. (*Compare here the words of the Virgin:’he has brought down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek’(Magnificat-St Luke 2) Bow down now, then before the power of God, so that he may raise you up in good time.

Unload your burdens on to him, since he is concerned about you. Keep sober and alert, because your enemy is the devil and on the prowl on earth like a roaring lion , looking or something to devour. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge it is the same kind of suffering that the community of brothers throughout the world is undergoing. You will have to suffer only for a little while. The God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will retore you, he will confirm, strengthen and support you, his power lasts forever and ever. Amen
I write these words to you to encourage you and attest that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!

Greet each other with the kiss of Peace.
Pax to you all who are in Christ.

The Grail and its amazing stories is a precious holy relic, which held the blood of Christ. But we, who drink the precious Blood in the Eucharist have it whenever we partake of it. It is present to us now, today. That is AMAZING!