"Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon"-"A nation without a language is a nation without a heart" Welsh Proverb

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Age of the Saints

Age of the Saints

The History of Wales's photo.

It is thought that the foundations for the Welsh church had already been laid in late Roman Britain and "The Age of the Saints" refers to the 5th and 6th century "Celtic Saints" who journeyed along the western seaways between Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, spreading the Word.
The Age of Saints began in Wales with Dyfrig (Saint Dubricus), a bishop at Ariconium in the kingdom of Ergyng in the middle of the 5th century,who kept Christianity alive in Wales at a time when Roman introduced Christianity was waning in England and paganism was revived. Dyrfig was followed by Illtud, an abbot, who established a school in Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major), which drew scholars from across the Celtic world. Gildas, author of "De Excidio Britanniae", one of the few historical records we have of Britain at this time, was a scholar at Llanilltud Fawr.
In the early sixth century, many of the Welsh Saints retreated from society and settled in isolated areas to lead lives of prayer and communion with God and unlike the Irish missionaries, made very little attempt to convert the pagan Anglo Saxons. Christianity only reached the English with the coming of St Augustine to Canterbury in 597, on a mission to bring Christianity to Britain As a papal-appointed archbishop, Augustine expected obedience from the bishops of Wales, but they rejected his claims and also refused to conform to Roman practices on matters such as the system for calculating the date of Easter. Wales was the only substantial territory still refusing to conform. and when the English historian Bede was writing his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731, he claimed that the Welsh had possessed no desire to Christianize the pagan English and for the most part have a natural hatred for the English and uphold their own bad customs against the true Easter of the Catholic Church.
The Celtic saints of Wales were often men or women of noble rank, including kings, princes, and chieftains, who chose to renounce privilege and live the monastic life, they appear as indivduals of concience in a violent unpredictable age, polar opposites of aggressive kingdom expansionism and they offered a peaceful non violent place of sanctuary.
In Wales sanctity was locally conferred and none of the medieval Welsh saints appears to have been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Of the thousand or so parishes of Wales, the names of up to a half begin with Llan. It means an enclosure and was originally applied to a consecrated Christian burial ground rather than to a building, some of the llannau are dedicated to the Celtic saints hence we have Landdewi, Llandeilo, Llangadog, Llanbadarn, Llanfeuno and Llandysilio, while others are dedicated to figures of Christianity such as Mary, Peter and Michael (Llanfair, Llanbedr, Llanfihangel). Over 400 inscribed tombstones and crosses have been found from all parts of Wales, with dates ranging from the 5th century. The earliest examples are quite plain, and generally served as tombstones or grave-markers. Later monuments include the "Samson Cross" at Llantwit, and the fine pillar crosses at Carew and Nevern.

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