Welsh Christianity

In one of this season’s earlier videos, we talked about ‘early’ Welsh Christianity and religion. Today we are talking about what was different about Christianity in Wales in later eras. Christianity in the first centuries AD was in still to some degree competing with paganism, particularly following the fall of Rome. While Rome had officially become Christian in 388, not only was Britain located at the end of the Roman Empire at that time, Rome completely abandoned it by 410. That meant that the Christianity that developed in Wales was organized around small cells of believers, led by inspired leaders who came to be known as saints. That’s why the period was called ‘the age of Saints’, where men and women formed monasteries and convents, but with little to none of the hierarchy and oversight that came later. By 800 Read more…

Llangelynin

With Llanrychwyn last week, I get that ‘llan’ means church, so was Gelynin a saint too? Funny you should ask that because yes, he was! In fact, he was Saint Rhychwyn’s brother, one of 12, if you recall from last week, who became monks because their father’s court was inundated by the sea. His name, however, was actually Celynin, with a ‘C’. And before you ask why the settlement is pronounced with a ‘g’, it has to do with the way certain consonants ‘soften’ within the Welsh language, depending upon what sound comes before them. Never mind, unless you are studying Welsh, you don’t want to know. Getting back to the church, the nave we see today dates to the 12th century, with the rest of it having been upgraded and added on to between the 13th and 17th centuries. Read more…

St. David’s Cathedral

St. David, or Dewi Sant in Welsh, was one of the original saints of Wales in the 6th century, along with St. Kentigern and Gwenffrewi. St. David’s Cathedral has always been Norman, but it stands on the site of a monastery Dewi Sant founded around 500 AD. Like the other saints we talked about earlier in this season of videos, he was known for miracles, the most famous of which was the rising up of a hill on the spot where he was preaching. His symbol is the leek, which is why Welsh soldiers in the middle ages were known to go into battle with a leek pinned to their clothing and the leek remains a national symbol of Wales. Such was the renown of the monastic community, even hundreds of years after David’s death, that King Alfred is said Read more…