Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, June 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 10, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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