Llanddwyn is located on Ynys Llanddwyn, a tidal island off the coast of Anglesey. In addition to being a nature reserve and important shipping center in more modern times, for centuries it was a holy site dedicated to Saint Dwynwen. Dwynwen is known now as the Welsh patron saint of lovers, essentially the patron saint of a Welsh Valentine’s Day, though her day is celebrated on January 25th.
The Dwynwen legend is not one that might be considered romantic by today’s standards. In it, Dwynwen is unable to marry Maelon, the man she loves, because her father has already promised her to someone else. Rather than see her married to another man, Maelon attacks her. An angel appears and turns him to ice. Dwynwen prays and is then granted three wishes: that Maelon be released; that, through her, God look after all true lovers; and that she remain unmarried. When all this comes to pass, she retreats to the solitude of Ynys Llanddwyn and lives as a hermit until her death around 460 AD.
During the middle ages, many pilgrims traveled to Ynys Llanddwyn, where a church was built in Dwynwen’s name. At one time, it was one of the wealthiest churches in Wales, and as a pilgrim site, rivaled St. David’s in importance. All that remains today are a few stone walls and part of the nave.