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Mary in Monmouth

A site tracing the Catholic life and history of the Ancient Kingdom of Gwent, now known as Monmouthshire,UK from Silurian times. Linked to Mary in Monmouth download free from iTunes Store or RSS feed at end of this blog.Also MaryinMonmouth Group of Face b

Updated: 2018-01-13T00:57:00.067-08:00




The Gunter House at Abergavenny with its Secret Catholic Chapel. Fundraising group to restore and tell the story of this remarkable House. From the South Wales ArgusThe Welsh Georgian Trust has been in negotiations with a Monmouth-based company to buy the Grade II*Listed Gunter Mansion in Cross Street and an agreement has been reached to acquire it if the funds can be raised.The Monmouth-based trust, which specialises in rescuing endangered treasurers, aims to restore the building which boasts one of the best preserved recusant chapels in the UK and the only one in Wales.Saint David Lewis, an Abergavenny man executed for High Treason, built a secret chapel in the attic to hold services for Catholics when the religion was outlawed. He was born in 1616 and raised a Protestant, but later converted to Catholicism and became a priest. He was convicted of high treason and executed in Usk in 1679, and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 and the secret chapel, measuring 23ft by 10ft, remained undiscovered until 1907.At the time the property was owned by Thomas Gunter, a local attorney and ardent supporter of the Catholic faith.A number of retail units now occupy the ground floor of the mansion which once contained the chapel in its attic.The trust needs to raise £200,000 to buy the building from The Cardiff Exchange and Office Company Ltd and to carry out immediate urgent repairs. A bid will then be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for major restoration.Once the restoration work is complete, the bulk of the building will remain retail to ensure it has a viable economic future which, it is hoped, will be an opportunity to help in the regeneration of that part of the town centre. class="teads-resize" style="border-style: none !important; border-width: initial !important; box-sizing: border-box; display: block !important; font-family: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; height: 0px !important; line-height: inherit; margin: 0px !important; min-height: 0px !important; padding: 0px !important; vertical-align: baseline; width: 608.664px;">A public meeting, hosted by the Trust’s chairman, Andrew Becket, was held in the town last week.Mr Becket said there was ‘tremendous support shown’ and a wealth of ideas put forward. A steering group is due to meet and several groups formed to look at areas of the project such as the lottery bid, fundraising and research of the building.He said: “Although the building has been altered since the time of St David Lewis, it retains many of its 17th century and 18th century features and detailing.”“It is II*Listed for its ‘special interest as a late 16th century house with fine features and an important history.”An altar piece, The Adoration of the Magi by an unknown artist is now on display in Abergavenny Museum.(See above) St David Lewis would have offered Mass in this building.The trust wants to see the chapel opened up to the public, and one possibility is to create a small centre celebrating the history of the Catholicism in Wales.Former Torfaen MP Paul Murphy who is a prominent Catholic, the local history society and Civic society have pledged their support for the project.Mr Becket said: “Whatever happens, this will be a community project. We have no fixed ideas at the moment but we will keep it within the realms of what is achievable.”It has until the end of 2016 to raise the funds.More anon.[...]

The Cambrai Homily and Three Gwentian Saints...


This study considers the concept of spiritual martyrdom as it came via the ‘Desert Fathers of Africa, via the Church in Gaul   to Wales and Ireland It argues that spiritual martyrdom existed as a practice We consider three Gwentian saints who show the characteristics of  spiritual martyrdom, even though the exact sequence of events in their lives cannot  be accurately verified.I hope to show that the 'White Martyrdom' of St Augustine was an early practice, involving penance and deprivation,that the ‘glas’ or blue martyrdom was a particularly British and Irish penance, involving tears and atonement. The Greek word ‘martyr’ μάρτυς,=mártys  means ‘witness’. The saints are ‘shining like the sun’for Jesus Christ lived again in their deeds and being. Such were St Tecla, working on an island near Chepstow and  St Tegfedd,  both  killed ‘by Saxons’ or more likely bandits. It was considered martyrdom, because sacrilegehad occurred. On the death of her husband, in continental practice of the time, widows often consecrated their lives to God and took the veil. They were on a spiritual martyrdom but had shed their blood Spiritual martyrdoms were observed in different colours, practised by the Desert monks, brought via Gaul, and promoted by St Martin of Tours and the Spanish monk Bachiarius, who combined the concept of penitence, austerity and atonement for these working with the poor and praying for the dead. The Cambrai Homily ‘summarise’ these teachings from the early church,so that sinners can offer their sufferings and penances as ‘living martyrdoms’. We know what ‘red’ martyrdom is ‘they endure a cross or destruction for Christ’s sake, as happened in the Apostles when they persecuted the wicked and taught the law of God’.   It is possible Tegfedd’s quiet estate(podum,villa), where the consecrated widow retired to end her days seeking salvation in penance, was polluted by an attack by bandits, possibly Saxons only out of greed for the treasures which may have been in her chapel. Her spiritual martyrdom of tears-her ‘glas’ or blue martyrdom thus became a ‘red(bloody)’ martyrdom, when her life was taken . It has been claimed by Bradney that her body was kept as a relic, as a bone was found walled up, when the Church was restored.  St Derfel, seems to have spent most of his life and a charismatic and powerful soldier. It should be remembered he and his brothers were taught by one of the greatest Christian abbots in Wales, St Illtyd at Llantwit Major. He may indeed have been a warrior monk, or priest, and since Illtyd himself had been both of Breton extraction and a soldier and may have encouraged Derfel to literally fight the pagans, who had destroyed all churches in their wake in the Borderlands of Wales. The story of Camlan is well known, although its location is uncertain. Tristran Grey Hulse believes it took place at North Wales at the River Camlan in Eifionydd, now part of Gwynedd. We know the story of Gwynhwyfar’s adultery, not with Geoffrey’s fanciful  French ‘Lancelot’, but his own nephew, (or possibly even  own son,) Medrot.(Meuddredd or Mordred) The Battle of Camlan seems to have been victorious, but nothing was solved. No vita has survived for Derfel, but he appears in the Bonedd ,and the bards kept his deeds in memory with stirring poems about his ‘red hand’..There is a reference to ‘Dorfil’ in the hills around Camlan, which may have been a residence, and of course he did spend time in Llandderfel, Merionethshire, North Wales, but we have no way of knowing the sequence of the chronology of his life. According to Bartrum  "Llydaw" may also be a nickname for SE Gwent , because of immigration so these saints may have been born in Gwent with Breton ancestry. In fact his aunt Dervella (Deruil)  was later Queen of Gwent and his father, ‘Llowell’ may have been the founder of  Llanllowell near Usk.  Derfyl’s surviving friend at Camla[...]

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.______________________________________________________________________[...]

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 [...]



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 '' 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.

Dom Edwin Echeandia Loro-Our new Deacon


22nd December,is the feast day of several early Roman Martyrs and some very holy saints. St Zeno who died in the same year as St Julius and Aaron,who was a martyred soldier at Nicomedia(Turkey) After watching Diocletian (284-405) offering a sacrifice to the Roman deity Ceres, he burst out laughing, but was seized tortured and condemned to death. St Amaswinthus, Abbot of the Andalusian monastery of Silva de Malaga for forty four years, was a good and holy man who died much later in 982AD.St Chaeromon was Bishop of Nilopolis in Egypt during Trajanus Decius’ persecution, and was quite elderly when he and his friends fled into the desert and vanished. He is listed as a martyr and died in 250AD.St Flavian was another early saint who died in December 262. He was branded on the forehead and exiled to Tuscany, where he died in prayer. St Demetrius was a  Martyr with Honoratus and Flaviun. They died at Ostia, Italy. Possibly the same as Sts. Demetrius and Honorius on November 21.  St Hunger was Bishop of Utrecht in the Netherlans=ds and fled the diocese during th invasion of the Nortmans who died in Prum Germnanyi. All these men, whichever theoir epocht, their period lived out good and holy lives. However gruesome some of the stories, a young man giving his life to the service of God is heartwarming, especially in the beautiful setting of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels Belmont, where Dom Edwin Echeander Loro was made a Deacon by the Most Reverend Kevin Macdonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark. The Mass, which had a beautiful liturgy began with Venantius Fortunatus (530-609AD) beautiful hymn Quem Terra pontus aethera \\(The Lord, whom earth and sea and sky adore and praise and magnify) followed by the Advent prose-the Rorate Caeli desuper sung in plainchant, led by their cantor, Abbot Paul Stoneham.. The Scriptures were from Samuel, when Hannah takes Samuel to Eli to give him to the Lord (I:24-25) The Psalm was 'My heart exults in God my Saviour' and was the canticle Mary's Magnificat.The second reading from the Act of the Apostles explains how the seven disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (6:1-7)St Stephen was one of these disciples and he and the other disciples Philip, Prochurus,Nicanor, Timon Parmenas and Nicklaus of Antioch all had hands laid on them and they became deacons and the Apostles prayed for them. Stephen, as we know was one of the first deacons to be martyred and is commemorated on 26th December.Following the Alleluia and the 'O Antiphon' O rex Gentium was sung before the reading of Lukes gospel from the Magnificat. (1:46-56)Brother Edwin was then called forward and presented for ordination by Father Abbot,He was accepted, called to celibacy, obedience and prayer and there followed the Litany of the Saints.during which Brother Edwin prostrated himself before the altar., Then, as in the Acts of the Aspotles, Archbishop Kevin laid hands on Edwin and made him a deacon and then prayed the prayer or consecration and invested him the the stole and dalmatic. There followed the presentation of the Books of the Gospel, the Kiss of Peace, and the Ave Maria.After that we went into the Sanctus and the Mass followed as usual. The Communion hymn was the Liturgy of St James translated by Gerard Moultrie.Let all mortal flesh keep silence.,There followed Ecce Virgo Concipiet and Alma redemptoris Mater.. This was a very beautiful singing and Deacon Edwin looked as if he had been assisting at Mass for ever.The guests were invited to Hedley Lodge for teas and refreshments, which were delicious and I met some very interesting people. [...]

HOLY ADVENT and preparation for CHRISTMAS


For all your favourite Christian Songs  Ave Maria, Schubert, Bach, Panis Angelicus, Our Father. Also available on iTunes!! Buy a track and give me a small Christmas Present!!!

This time of year is often one of reflection, looking back over the year and remembering the events and the people who have shaped the year.

Life is full of blessings and full of tragedies, looking at the terrible tragedy of the last week, the death of a 22 year old in a car crash. Hope in Salvation is a powerful joy, and all the things that make our lives worth living-family, our parents-even like my mother in a home with Dementia, to hold her hand and stroke her hair and see her smile is a powerful blessing. My sisters, my family and a growing list of good friends , old friends who have sent me Christmas cards and a good and loving husband and son! In fact life itself, its meaning is all wrapped up in whom we love and those who love us, a powerful gift of God, the God of Love and Christ, his love itself.


This year has seen several holy wells rediscovered and actively being refurbished. St Ffraed's at Skenfrith has yet to be dealt with. It has its own brown sign and pathway, but more of that in the new year. The Cope at Skenfrith, which was being used as a table cloth for a long time, has been sent to London for authenticating and and provenance  and the unfortunate Marian Priest John Aynsworth has been traced, who was martyred at the Priest's Well, now at the Sandhouse in Skenfrith. Piuctures are in the archive under Skenfrith. However BRYNGWYN -St Peter's Well has been found and will be restored as is St Teilos Well. Distinguished authoress on folk customs, Janet Bord asked me if I had ever found it and the Vicar  Father John Humphries found iut after talking to an 80 year old parishioner. Incidentally the head of the preaching cross at Llanarth, destroyed by Puritans was found in another well further down the road and was retrieved by Catholics in Llanarth, Paddy and Celia Nash and put on another plinth outside the Catholic Church. So interesting things going on there.

I also managed to find St Gwladys Well which was supposed to have been destroyed, It has not not been sensitively managed, in that the current owners did not know what it was. Finding St Gwladys Chapel (the mediaeval one on the site) was also very exciting. This was extremely strong as a string and was bath shaped, but now lined with black plastic pool liner and held down with two little pixies. Still I like to think St Gwladys would have approved!

'Popish' Rituals and Practices at Holy Wells'


Yesterday I talked about the 'popish practices' claimed by Protestants of the Faithful after the Reformation, watching Catholics  gathering together at Holy Sites in God's Creation-Holy wells, Holy Mountains and Shrines. You are led to believe their devotion is 'mumbo jumbo or magic spells', but they are actually straightforward the Catholic devotions we know today. We have not cut 'cut off ' the life of the spirit, God and Christ from our worship, because we still live in God and the spirit. This second post is concerning these 'popish' devotions we still have as sacred today.Of course in the 'stations' described as sacred places where the penitents would pray, there would be other things-Easter Sepulchres in Churches or even crawling under the saints' altar allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />The Mass is for Christians the source and summit of their Christian Faith. It kept the people together, even when they outwardly performed what they needed to to escape the terrible fines and attended the local parish church , not taking the Communion offered there. The Mass, the same as today, consists of the Liturgy of the Word (Biblical readings and teaching from the OT, The Psalms, the Epistle and the Gospel for which the people all turn to the readers and the preacher signing the cross on the foerehead (God be in my Head and in my Understanding) on the lips (God be on my mouth and on my speaking) and on the heart (God be in my heart and in my thinking).This is in respect of the Words of the Gospel. The glory of the Word of the Lord is welcomed by the people who acclaim 'Alleliua! three times, at the end of the reading and the three fold Alleluia is the Homily, the teaching. The priest surrenders his voice to that of Christ to tie together the readings and psalms. The people rise and sing the beliefs of the Christians present in the Nicean Creed. Jesus shares fully in the Divinity of the Father-'God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father) Those who profess the one God, are standing firmly against idolatry ancient or modern) There follow the prayers to God...the Faithful call out 'Christe Audi nos'-Lord hear us and the response 'Lord graciously hear us'. The prayers are for the living and the dead saints of the Church and then the first part of the Mass-the Liturgy of the Word-where God speaks to us finishes. The wine and bread and water which will become Christ's body are offered to the altar with a hymn. Bread and Wine are 'Wheat and Vine' and this implies Earth, Fire,Water Air Soil Wind and Sunshine-indeed the Cosmos itself. The small gifts are therefore representative of the Creation of the God of the Universe. There follows the Liturgy of the Eucharist.(Thanksgiving in English)In songs and responses we speak to him. There follows the Meal, which he himself prepares for us, the High Priest and the victim draws us to himself.In a world gone wrong, there is no intimacy without sacrifice, because sin has twisted us out of shape and so intimacy with God will mean a painful 'twisting back' -a sacrifice. In an animal sacrifice someone took one small aspect of God's creation and returned it to its source as an act of gratitude for the gift of his own existence. God has no need of these sacrifices - He does not need anything at all, but we need sacrifices (He knows our need)in order to reorder things with us and restore union with God , What is given back to God and sacrificed to Him breaks against the rock of Divine Self Sufficiency and returns for the benefit of the one who has made the Offering. Sacrifice produces Communion. This is the distinctive meaning under the Liturgy of the Eucharist. All the angels and [...]

Popular Piety!. Can our ancient holy places bring us even closer to God?


The video explores the finding of Ffynnon Bedr recently (St Peter's Well) and ancient Healing Well at Bryngwyn near Abergavenny, after many many years. The farmer and local churchwarden of the local Anglican Church are with me. We started to clear what looked like a muddy swamp and suddenly with a dressed stone-the water came through in a strong stream, every bot as strong as St Winifrides. The well will be restored in the spring and the community are very excited! The local Church is still dedicated to St Peter since pre Anglican times.Michael P Carroll , in his book 'Irish Pilgrimage' Holy Wells and Popular Catholic Devotion, an excellently researched and thought provoking book-leaving aside perhaps the last chapter (Freudian theories) maintains that the practice of visiting holy wells and mountains was a Catholic devotion, based around the cult of a saint-usually and in Wales we had plenty. He said observances at Holy Wells and groves were a particularly Catholic idea and had various reasons and evolved throughout the ages of the church from the time of the earliest saints.He is deeply sceptical about these devotions having anything to do with Celtic observances, mainly because the evidence for that is thin (and you will have to read the bookto see how thin it is) However we do know that many ancient sites were Christianised at one point or another, but as Carroll points out, that other places became holy wells long after this time and can become so at any time in God's time. St Augustine, likewise was told to tear down idols and statues which might have appeared at these places, and many of the Yew trees associated with these sites still exist today. The main question is-how were these holy wells used? Were they a kind of Welsh voodoo, a hybrid of Catholicism and a secret Celtic past? There are traditions that a 'sacred bath' was part of the inauguration ceremony of a Druid into the next stage of Enlightenment , but this 'bath' took place by royal persons and those joining the Druid movement at a secret site in a cave in Snowdonia, and had little to do with local wells. Of course the first function of a well is to provide water, neccessary for everyone, and in fact, part of the early fascination was of water bubbling up from the ground, especially with the purity and clarity of so many Welsh springs. Michael Carroll is talking of Irish Wells and pilgrimages to them, but the Welsh interest in Wells is as early,although four centuries of Roman rule had vastly changed the culture of Romano Britain. This was a country that spoke Latin as well as Welsh as the norm (as we speak English/Welsh today)The enterprising businessman had to speak Latin to advance his prospect and it was the language of the whole Empire. Caerleon was not a remote outpost of the Roman Empire. The grandeur of the Roman buildings at Caerleon were remarked on in 1188 AD when Gerald the Welshman accompanied Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury from Llanthony, Patrishow, Monmouth,Abergavenny, Usk, and Caerleon on the way to Newport and Cardiff to collect people to save the Holy Places in Jerusalem from those who had conquered it and closed it off for Christian pilgrims. 'Llechs, and crosses'Since Gerald was a Welsh speaker, he was able to help the Archbishop by speaking Welsh where needed and actually also commented on some of the low points of the faith of the Welsh. From his comments it can be seen that this Catholic faith, the older version of the Celtic saints, before the new mission sent by Pope Gregory via Augustine, was deeply embedded in the people. It was embedded in this earlier Catholic culture, which Carroll theorises about in Ireland. Many of the 'llechs' the 'special stones' often elaborately carved had been carved in Christian terms, and indeed many of the stones to be observed around Wales' whilst showing Ogham writings, also h[...]



 The Friars were established by the Staffords early in the 14th century. I am wiring this as a 'follow up to my last post on Mediaeval Newport and thank James Matthews from Newport Public Library his limited edition book of 1910 'Historic Newport' with a chapter on The Friars.We probably never will know exactly which year, but 1347 would be a good date and would have been completed by December of that year, because St Augustine Because their patron St Augustine of Hippo was consecrated by Bishop Aurelius of Carthage as co-ajutor to Bishop Valerius of Hippo in that month (Christmas 395AD) They dedicated their church to St Nicholas whose charism was his charity, being also one of the saints of the month of December, and honoured by seamen as their patron saint. So St Nicholas Churches are often found in seaports, as here, near the harbour. 372 churches have been named in his honour in Britain. The ‘Austin Friars Preachers’dedicated their first chapel and monastery to St Nicholas and it became the first sailors church in the port.Old possible Carmelite Priory The Old Priory in Belle View Lane (writing 1910) must not be confused with the chapels of St Nicholas and the Chapel of St Thomas the reason is they do not conform to the description being of by the ‘key (quay) beneath the bridge’.When the Carmelite Friars occupied this Friary, a thick avenue of trees extended from the garden grounds to the present ‘Mountjoy Inn’(1910)and from there it ran down in a crescent form down the late Poplar Row to the precincts of the Friary near the River, to which those ancient religious wended their way , at the hour of prayer to the lower chapel of the Austen Friars.The planting of the sacred grove was the work of the Austen Friars, long before the agreement in 1377.St NicholasThe little community of Augustinians, after working and labouring among the indigent poor of Newport for upwards of thirty two years, found their work flagging through lack of support, and so the order became less and less efficient, for this reason alone.In addition, they were working in the aftermath of the most terrible placue ever to hit Britain, and the town needed a new lease of life.Earl of Stafford gives Friars burgages and places it under the governance of St Peter’s GloucesterThe Staffords were great patrons of the Austen Friars, and it was about this time 1377, when their position was precarious, that Hugh the son of Ralph who had succeeded his father in 1372 as second Earl of Stafford and Lord of Newport and Wentllwch/Gwynllwch came to their assistance and gave them 32 burgages of meadow land and the site to build a new church , the site of their former building. Being aware the Brothers Hermits never accepted money, houses nor lands , owing to their charism, and at the same time understanding their function serving the poor had to be put on a sound financial footing, he gave the deeds over to the Benedictines of St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester, in trust for them in the form of an agreement.The burgages were in the Parish of St Woolos and hence in the parish of Gwynlliw’s Church and the Abbot of St Peters was in charge of that Church.The Benedictines would be under no misapprehensions as to what the loss of the tithes from the St Woolos burgages would mean to the Church of which they were custodians.As judicious managers of property , the monks of the Benedictine house had no equals . They were businesslike ,exact and prompt in their dealings and they required from their tenants and servants a just and faithful performance of their services and duties and at the same time were not harsh and ungrateful masters. This document was found by Messrs Wakeman and Morgan, and we mut be grateful to them for finding out this very early history,as it proves beyond doubt that the Austin Friars were establ[...]

Unique Pre Reformation Catholic Chapel Longworth,in Herefordshire


This chapel, dedicated to St James, but commonly known as Longworth Chapel, was built in the late 1300’s and was used only for Catholic worship over 600 years. This also may mean the family in the Old Longworth Manor House (at the meeting of the rivers Frome and Lugg-not far away,  continued to practise their religion throughout penal times. So this ,like Holywell in North Wales is one of the few chapels which never lost their Catholic identity, throughout the centuries.At some time in the 17th century, however, it was replaced by the present Longworth Hall and built on higher ground. During the time of the recusancy-possibly-it suffered much, as it was dangerous to allow the authorities to find a Catholic chapel, so it was as in so many other cases, it was disguised and used as a barn, the gentry no doubt outwardly conforming to the new faith, whilse secretly practising their own. However, the severity of the laws at last broke through and forced the family into conformity, since no Catholic could own property, and many recusants were impoverished and forced to flee the country. No doubt some family member was more pragmatic. Emancipation did not come until the mid nineteenth century.In any case in 1832 with the Roman Catholic Relief Act , Catholics were at last allowed to openly practise their faith. The Oxford Movement gave great respectability to the faith and many finally could come out and join the church. One such was a Mr Robert Biddulph Philipps, who owned the estate. In 1851, when the Hierarchy was being  re-established, and religious orders were being invited in to help set it up. Robert began the refurbishment of the chapel on its original site (where it had remained). His aim was to provide a place of worship for his wife and family who had followed him into the church, and to provide a grave chapel for them. Mass was publically celebrated again 150 years ago on 11th September 1859. No doubt local Catholics also used it, since very few Mass centres existed when every thing was set up again. Nicholas’ daughter had joined a religious order in France, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge at Caen. It seems he then suffered a cruel blow, when his daughter of 21 suddenly died. He now had no heir, and since he wanted to give his goods to the church, he decided to build and provide for a Convent nearby for the French Order of his daughter, but the nuns wanted higher ground (the chapel stood on the original flood plain).Robert had wanted the Chapel to be associated with the Convent and provided for it to be moved next to the Convent, and desired to be buried in it, but died before anything could be done. Indeed at the cost of £547 the Chapel was taken down and rebuilt next to the convent. The Chapel was perhaps fortunate that the Convent was designed and built 1862-4 by E W Pugin.In 1863, Elizabeth Biddulph (sister Mary of St Peter) arrived from France to take up residence.The chapel is mediaeval in style, but blended with Pugin’s work, very sensitively. The earthly bodies of Robert Philipps, his wife and youngest daughter were removed from where they had originally been buried and brought to lie in the chapel, where they rest.The Convent remained for 130 years and their mission was as a refuge for young girls, who were deprived, physically, socially and spiritually. Sadly in 1993 the sisters had to sell . They had wanted to found a care village, but all sorts of problems prevented this. Sunday Mass continued to be offered and the St Richard’s Hospice also continued. Both St Anne’s Convent Chapel and  St James had to be closed in 1995 and the convent sold for development into luxury flats. In 1997, the diocese wanted to sell the chapel for development for a nominal sum, but this was not acceptable to the local cong[...]

Kyneburgha,Daughter of Penda and Holy Abbess, or Gloucester Saint?


St Kyneburghawas a female 7th century Mercian saint, daughter of the pagan King of  Mercia called Penda. She married King Ealhfrith, co-regent of Northumbria (who went to the Synod of Whitby  in 664AD but then she left him to establish an abbey at Castor,near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, of which she became the first abbess. She was buried in her church, but her remains were taken, before 972 to Peterborough Abbey. She had been one of the signatories, together with her brother Wulfhere of the founding charter of Burh Abbey, dated 664AD, according to DugdalesMonasticon.(Burh Abbey was later dedicated to St. Peter, becoming "Peterborough"). She was venerated as a saint by the monks of Peterborough, but there was another saint who was of Kyneburgha, the wife of King Oswald. A hymn to praise the life of Christ as lived in St Kyneburgha was found and restored in recent times along with her Festival. The Latin and English texts of the chants comes from the literature accompanying a Compact Disc recording entitled “Chant in honour of Anglo Saxon saints”. The singing was by a group called Magnificat, directed by Philip Cave and recorded in Durham Cathedral in 1995. (CD ref is CGCD4004). The CD was produced by a firm called Griffin of Church House, St Mary’s Gate, Lancaster LA1 1TD. The music was transcribed from an original manuscript by David Hiley, who also wrote the foreword above. The text was translated by Davis Norwood. Philip Cave is a member of The Tallis Scholars and a layclerk at New College OxfordLaudet dominum cum Petro sanctoBurgensis ecclesia in clarislampadibus Kyneburgha et Kyneswitha ac TibbaLet the Burgensian church praise the Lord,together with St Peter, and, with their bright torches, let Kyneburgha and Kyneswitha and Tibba do likewise.                                                                                                                                                                     In translatorem sanctarumreliquiarum exorta est regis et populitempestas naufragosa sed moximperante domino facta esttranquillitas magna. Nobis quoquebene prosperetur trinitas benedictaper nos, o beate Kyneburgha et Kyneswitha ac Tibba.Against the remover of the sacred relicshere arose a fierce storm from king and people but, ere long, at the bidding of the  Lord, peace was fully restored Gloriosa dispensatione dei interfectorregis et martyris Oswaldi, Rex Penda,protulit gemellas rosas Christo de suaspina – Christianissimas filias Christosuscipiente de pagano parente. Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto.May we alsofind good fortune, o blessed Kyneburgha,Kyneswitha and Tibba, our blessed trinity.By the wondrous contrivance of God the slayer of Oswald, king and martyr, King Penda, fathered two roses for Christ from his own thorny stock and Christ received these devotedly Christian daughters from their pagan father.Glory be to the Fathe[...]

Tintern Abbey Vespers...a magical afternoon and a debut


                                                                                       September 8th is the day theat has been chosen by the Church to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary. It was Mary who co-operated with God, who had chosen her, a little Jewish girl of about 15 years perhaps to take the almighty task of providing the Saviour of the World. A  huge task for such a young woman. She acknowledges her stainless state by calling God her 'Saviour' and rejoices in  the faith and honour God has shown her faith and honour which have been shown to her, now, as she, living enjoys the Presence of God and her Son Jesus. Since all Christians, after their baptism, are united, as adoptive sons and daughters of God (cf The Kings and Queens of  Narnia are CS Lewis allegory in The Lion, the Witch and the Warderobe) Christ's mother is our Mother too, a mother we should call Blessed.....because the angel Gabriel said 'Blessed art Thou among Women' and Mary herself says 'Behold all generations shall call me blessed'.So we have an enormous debt to little Mary for bringing us the Redeemer, the Saviour, He who conquered death for us and brought us Salvation. She gave Christ the flesh, which hung , to her enormous pain, on the Cross at Calvary, when the sword pierced her heart. The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated with Mediaeval festivities as a holiday right through to 1535 when for some reason the Virgin was banned to being a 'receptacle'-a womb that God used to bring Our Lord into the world. Her honours and festivals ceased in Britain, even though both Luther and Calvin to their dying day,loved and honoured her. With the revival of honour being shown, underlined by John Henry Newman and Catholic Emancipation (the repeal of the harsh penal laws against Catholics) the honours were renewed and in recent years, the finding of the statue of Our Lady of Tintern, found in bits in the stone store and brilliant Sculptor Philip Chatfield's recreation from its pattern, found in Amiens Cathedral, there the original Sculptor had fashioned it, it has been 'returned'. The stone was blessed, then the Sculptor and his tools in the traditional way by the Cistercian Abbot of Caldey, Daniel van Sandvoort  and Philip worked out of doors in the Abbey for the next year.It was consecrated by clergy (this is an ecumenical event) and Revd Archbishop Peter Smith on the 500 anniversary of the dissolution of the Abbey.On Sunday 9th September 2007 the statue was blessed and dedicated in a moving ceremony conducted jointly by the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith, and by Bishop Dominic Walker of Monmouth, Church of Wales. A very large crowd gathered for the occasion – in the region of 800 people.The dedication followed the now annual ecumenical service of Sung Vespers, which first took place again at Tintern in 2000, to mark the Millennium. The procession at that dedication included the Mediaeval re-enacters, who brought a banner, and flowers, which had been brought by many of the ecumenical assembly of Christians.Merchandise was produced to help pay for the enterprise. I also arranged for and brought two candle stands for use with the statue at Tintern for the ceremony, which appear to have been mislaid yesterday, which was regrettable. Nevertheless the even[...]



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Thank you David for this wonderful video of the procession through Usk to St Mary's Priory Church. God is glorious in his saints and martyrs, St David Lewis, Pray for us.

St David Lewis, Beautiful Weather Brought out the Usk Crowds


     Yesterday at Usk, glorious warm weather brought out the crowds for the annual pilgrimage for St David Lewis. These pilgrimages have taken place annually for over a hundred years and comemmorate the Martyrdom of  Father Lewis in 1697.Father Lewis was the son of an Abergavenny headmaster, who was a convert, studied in France and maintained his witness in South Wales, ministering to the many secret Catholics in South Wales. Infact the Abergavenny area was never without Catholics, many nobility and people never leaving the Church. It was said at the time of the Titus Oates lies, that Monmouthshire was a 'true daughter of Rome' and not 40 people attended Church of England services, while hundreds went to Mass in the Gunter House. There is also a small staue of the Saint in Abergavenny at Our Lady and St Michaels Church in Abergavenny. Father Tom  OSB was present at the Pilgrimage.I have told the story of St David Lewis on a previous blogspot, so I wont repeat again. If you type 'St David Lewis' in 'search' on the left hand search box, you should find the previous post.Numbers were slightly down on recent years and there was a feeling of sadness. Unfortunately, no cndles were lit in the church, which gave a bleak feel, until the altar candles were lit. Father Julian of the Anglican Church said he was sad that the historic parish now no longer had a resident priest, and there was a slight feeling of something missing.However, there was joy in the beautiful traditional Benediction service. It was all led by Father Adrian Wiltshire, who sang confidently with his beautiful voice. It seemed clergy from other churches were also present. It was the first time, since I had been going that there was Benediction instead of Mass. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The procession left the Church, reciting the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary for the benefit of the Soul of the saint, and  arrived at the grave side in glorious sunshine, Fr Adrian carrying the relic of St David Lewis.In his final speech from the hastily prepared gallows, Fr Lewis had quoted from theScriptures, from 1 Peter 3, about how to die for what is right . 'Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness sake you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christhe Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls yu to account for the Hope that is within you, yet d it with gentleness and reverence, and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame For it is better to suffer for what is right, if that should be God's will, tan for doing wrong. ForCrist also died for sins once for all, he rightous for the unrighteous , that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. The botched execution caused more pain to Father Lewis, but finally two Protestants he had helped made sure he had died at the hanging, dragging at his hands, s there was no drawing and quartering,and the body was laid in the graveyard in the parish church, where it was later found during excavation and buried in a more prominent place at the Church door of the former priory, now Anglican Church.At he graveside, the relic was brought to each member of the congregation for veneration, as the Faithful sang 'Faith of Our Fathers'.Flowers had been placed on the grave and a photograph of a portrait of the saint, I think painted while he was in France as[...]

For all who have been enquiring about my recordings ...some popular Classics!


Evelyn Nicholson | Inspiration | CD Baby Music Store

(image) I hope you will enjoy these. I am in a very busy period of work at the moment and will resume my posts after next week!


These are recent recordings made with Bredon Sound. Click to hear samples of the recordings and download as many as you want.

Songs Include

Ave Maria          (Bach-Gounod)
Ave Maria          (Schubert)
Our Father          (Malotte)
Panis Angelicus (Cesar Franck)
Ave Maria           (Mascagni)
Nun's Chorus       (Oskar Strauss)
Jesu Joy                (Bach)
and others

Mary in May, The Night of 1,000 candles


Last night,i n spite of a very damp evening, nearly a thousand people turned up to Belmont Abbey for the famous May procession to honour Mary, the human mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. People met at Hedley Lodge, for an evening meal or tea and cake and then assembled at nine o'clock at the gates of the Abbey. People turned up in coaches, cars, minibuses and everywhere was packed. At the gates, people bought Lourdes candles and paper cups in which to shield them from the wind.Abbot Paul Stoneham welcomed all the pilgrims , who had come from as far as Swansea, and also from Bromyard in Herefordshire and all joined in a rousing series of hymns thanking Mary for her 'Yes' to God's plan which overturned Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. We were graced with the presence of the Lord Archbishop of Cardiff, whose birthday it was and who joined in the hymns with equal fervour to the Welsh, who were in good voice. The processional statue of Our Lady was borne aloft, decked with many different sorts of flowers, roses, carnations lilies many other varieties and was illumined. We walked around the huge garden, and recited the Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. In fact this carrying of the statue and the singing and prayer very much called to mind the Ark of the Covenant, the powerhouse of the ancient Israelites at the beginning of our Plan of Salvation, before whom David danced. Mary was of the House of David, and is often called the 'Tower of David' as one of that line's most glorious creations. During a homily in the Abbey Church, Archbishop George gave an inspirational homily,recalling our 'journey' through the garden .He reminded us, that our Salvation had begun in the Garden of Eden. Eve too had been conceived without sin, because God had done this for Adam and Eve but, after Eve's disobedience, another woman,Mary in her immediate obedient  'yes' to the Angel Gabriel had brought the possibility of restoring us to Eden. The story of  Salvation, moved to a close in another garden, that of Gethsemene,where Jesus was arrested, before his death on the Cross for our Salvation.The Angel called Mary 'Blessed' and so we call her Blessed Mary or 'Blessed Mother' and in fact Mary herself says 'All generations shall call me blessed' in her Song of Praise, the Magnificat. In watching the procession move around, I was mindful of the Ark being carried by the Israelites. It was made of gold  and was Ancient Israel's symbol of the Presence of God, as it contained The Ten Commmandments of the Law of Moses, The Rod of Aaron, the High PriestAn Urn containing the Manna from Heaven , which the ancient Israelites had been dropped from Heaven to physically eat in the desert to stay alive, when God saved them from starvation. Jeremiah had hidden the Ark from the invading Babylonians and said that the Ark would come back when the Tabernacle, which had been OVERSHADOWED by the Glory Cloud (Holy Spirit) it when it was set up would once again come down.When King David brought the Ark to his new centre, Jerusalem, David greeted it and said "Who am I that the Ark of the Covenant should come unto me?" and then leapt in front of it with joy. (Compare Mary's cousin's greeting (Elizabeth)  'Who am I, that the Mother of my Lord should come unto me?', and the baby 'leapt' in her womb. In the book of Revelation (means Apocalypsis-Unveiling) Chapter 11 John saw the Temple open and the Ark of the Covenant. The scene then reveals  the Woman clothed with the sun and twelve stars around her head, 12 Apostles, 12 Tribes-His Body on earth crowning Mary.&n[...]



Today is St David's day and there will be celebrations all over Wales. His defence of Catholic teaching earned him his canonisation by Pope Callixtus II.He lived for a while in Caerleon and also in Llanthony where he had a little hermit's cell. This is the article from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia.(DEGUI, DEWI). Bishop and Confessor, with St Winifred ,patron of Wales. He is usually represented standing on a little hill, with a dove on his shoulder. From time immemorial the Welsh have worn a leek on St. David's day, in memory of a battle against the Saxons, at which it is said they wore leeks in their hats, by St. David's advice, to distinguish them from their enemies. He is commemorated on 1 March. The earliest mention of St. David is found in a tenth-century manuscript Of the "Annales Cambriae", which assigns his death to A.D. 601. Many other writers, from Geoffrey of Monmouth down to Father Richard Stanton, hold that he died about 544, but their opinion is based solely on data given in various late "lives" of St. David, and there seems no good reason for setting aside the definite statement of the "Annales Cambriae", which is now generally accepted. Little else that can claim to be historical is known about St. David. The tradition that he was born at Henvynyw (Vetus-Menevia) in Cardiganshire is not improbable. He was prominent at the Synod of Brevi (Llandewi Brefi in Cardiganshire), which has been identified with the important Roman military station, Loventium. Shortly afterwards, in 569, he presided over another synod held at a place called Lucus Victoriae.(Llan-dewi brefi) He was Bishop (probably not Archbishop) of Menevia, the Roman port Menapia in Pembrokeshire, later known as St. David's, then the chief point of departure for Ireland St. David was canonized by Pope Callistus II in the year 1120. This is all that is known to history about the patron of Wales. His legend, however, is much more elaborate, and entirely unreliable. The first biography that has come down to us was written near the end of the eleventh century, about 500 years after the saint's death, by Rhygyfarch (Ricemarchus), a son of the then bishop of St. David's, and is chiefly a tissue of inventions intended to support the claim of the Welsh episcopate to be independent of Canterbury. Giraldus Cambriensis, William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey of Monmouth, John de Tinmouth, and John Capgrave all simply copy and enlarge upon the work of Rhygyfarch, whilst the anonymous author of the late Welsh life printed in Rees, "Cambro-British Saints" (Cott. manuscript Titus, D. XXII) adds nothing of value. According to these writers St. David was the son of Sant or Sandde ab Ceredig ab Cunnedda, Prince of Keretica (Cardiganshire) and said by some to be King Arthur's nephew, though Geoffrey of Monmouth calls St. David King Arthur's uncle. The saint's mother was Nonna, or Nonnita (sometimes called Melaria), a daughter of Gynyr of Caergawch. She was a nun who had been violated by Sant. St. David's birth had been foretold thirty years before by an angel to St. Patrick. It took place at "Old Menevia" somewhere about A.D. 454. Prodigies preceded and accompanied the event, and at his baptism at Porth Clais by St. Elvis of Munster, "whom Divine Providence brought over from Ireland at that conjuncture", a blind man was cured by the baptismal water. St. David's early education was received from St. Illtyd at Caerworgorn (Llantwit major) in Glamorganshire. Afterwards he spent ten years studying the Holy Scripture at Whitland in Carmarthenshire, under St. Paulinus, (Pawl Hen), whom he cured of blindness by the sign [...]

The Ashing of the Sinners- Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity. 2 Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me. 4 To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words and mayst overcome when thou art judged. 5 For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me. 6 For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me. 7 Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. 8 To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice. 9 Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels. 11 Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit. 13 I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee. 14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol thy justice. 15 O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise. 16 For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. 17 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 18 Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up. 19 Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar. Last painting by Ashraf Gery. Thank you Ashraf-beautiful[...]



----Secondary School Childrens race.& nbsp;       This was a fine bunch of people, who raced from the Town Hall behind  down the road to the church. There was great fun and great enthusiasm, especially when the dog ate the pancakes that fell on the floor. The little boy cried but was given another pancake.Women's Race Men;s Race-winning Contestant---Junior race Winner and runner up.....I think he was quite disappointed!It was a pleasure to see such kind and welcoming people and the children, without attitude and with plenty of fun taking part in a local festivity. They were polite and yet really enjoyed themselves, shrieking with laughter.Male finalistFinalists in the Childrens RaceThe Road at dusk DToday is Shrove Tuesday and up and down most of Christendom, is the final day to eat up all the rich foods before the Lenten fast and to go to Confession and be 'Shriven' of your sins before Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) The confession aspect of tthe day is not available to all, being confined to when the priest is available for most in the many penetential Rites available in all parishes. I have put a list of reconciliation times at the bottom of this blog. If you would like me to include your parish or any penetential service, or it there is any inaccuracy, please let me know. People used to have a half day off work in Britain . Usually the church bell rang at 11am. Pancake races are still run in many places.Indeed the popularity of the pancake races and making of pancakes in neighbourhoods, care homes and all over has not died out. Clarkes, the Newport based food manufacturing plant have reported record sales for the Canadian Maple Spirit this week.They are said to be working round the clock to fill the orders for the four leading supermarket chains. Schools also take the lead in keeping the custom going! Abergavenny Tithe Barn have published a recipe for this years' pancakes and  there are more races at South Cerney, Gloucestershire from All Hallows Church at 3.30pm, and at St Margaret's Chapel (next to Our Lady of Glastonbury Catholic Church) at 3.30. I shall be travelling to Grosmont this afternoon to see the races there.The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney in Buckinghamshire was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. Pancake races in Olney can be dated back to 1445- in Catholic times.The first pancake recipe was in a cookbook dating back to the 1439. Over the years this custom has been kept and modern runners now dress as traditional housewives with aprons ands bonnets whilst holding their frying pan. Pancake Day race rules state that they must at least toss the pancake at the start of the race and at the end of the pancake day races.Shrove Tuesday is a term associated in English-speaking countries, Other Countries have, of course, Carnival and Mardi Gras.It is noted in Britain in histories going back to 1000AD, but may have been much earlier in the aural tradition.Making and eating the pancakes was considered the last feast which would be restricted during Lent.The date of Shrove Tuesday depends on the date of Easter and based on cycles of the moon.There are Penetential Masses in all parishes this Lent, which will be published on the Churches Websites.Unfortunately some of these are not up to date, and cannot be accessed.CWMBRAN NP44 3LTOur[...]

The Passing of a truly wonderful priest and confessor at Belmont Abbey


Father Dyfrig HarrisMonmouthshire Monk Priest, from Cwmbran, Torfaen. Requiescat in PaceRight:St Dyfrig of Ergyng, Bishop of Llandaff Benedictine Community have lost one of their Brethren, to a stroke quite suddenly on 23rd of January. I drove down to the Abbey at Belmont today in glorious sunshine, and thought how fitting it was, that although extremely cold, the heavens were smiling on us, and on father Dyfrig. To my surprise I found he was christened Kevin Harris and attended Our Lady's church in Cwmbran, where he was Christened and  confirmed and then at Pontypool. certainly I would never have guessed he was from Cwmbran. Jovial, laughing and and extremely kind Confessor, with real concern for the faithful he served, he will be sorely missed by us all-his stints at Abergavenny during the penetential masses in particular, because these were where I cam into contact with him.There was no room in the car park, and I walked back up through the graveyard to the Abbey Church and soon the procession of clergy entered, Abbot Paul being last . There were also representatives from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which Father Dyfrig loved, having been to the Ukraine, and able to chant the liturgy. A sizeable number of the Ukrainian Catholics were also in the congregation. The Abbey church was packed with people standing at the back and sides and all the chapels full. During Father Abbot's moving homily, you felt a real sense of loss, echoed in the emotional letter written by his brother Michael later after the mass. Dyfrig was a Welsh priest from Madley just down the road from Belmont, who became Bishop of Llandaff. (no myth here-it is fact) The hymns chosen, 'Jesu Lover of my soul' , 'Soul of my Saviour' and 'Guide me ,O thou great Redeemer' were all well known and fervently sung, and the plainchant music written out for us in a beautiful booklet meant that most participated in the Ordinary of the Mass, which was largely sung. Father Dyfrig's brother and sister in law Jean and their families sat at the front, obviously distraught and our sympathy and love went out to them.The gospel lesson from St John 14:1-6 was'Do not let your heart be troubledTrust in God still and trust in meThere are many rooms in my Father's houseIf there were not, I should have told youI am now going to prepare a place for youAnd after I have gone and prepared you a place,I shall return to take you with meso that is where I amyou may be tooYou know the way to the place where I am going.Thomas said 'Lord, we do not know where you are goingso how can we know the way?'Jesus said I am the Way and the Truth and the LifeNo one can come to the Father, except through me.'The commendation was sung 'Receive me Lord and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in the promise you have given me'.There followed the Byzantine Rite Commendation and the Christos Aneste, sung in Greek.Finally, as the coffin was carried out from the church, the In ParadisumIn Paradisum deducant angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.Chorus Angelorym te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere, aeternam habeas Requiem.As the Abbey church doors were open, the departing procession was bathed in bright sunlight, including Father Dyfrig's coffin- a great sign and a great blessing as a great priest, humble and human was carried out. I breathed the words:'Well done, thou[...]

BRYNGWYN, An ancient Church on a White Hill and Cistercian Grange


< St Peter as Pope in Bryngwyn ChurchAncient Welsh points to two men of Gwent, the first born c. 1045 and the father of Sir Gwyn, and secondly, the father of Aeddan who was born around 1135 and AEDDAN ap Gwaethfod a King of Gwaethfod . These Gwaethfods lived originally in Tegeingl and identify the earliest Gwaethfoed of Gwent as "ap Gwyn ap Glyddien (Cloddien) ap Gwybedydd ap Gwrydr Hir ap Caradog ap Lles Llyddog “ and believe he (or an intermediate ancestor) took up residence on the family's paternal lands in south Powys when other branches of the family remained in Tegeingl. This is not quite the story given by Sir Joseph Bradney,of a marauding Cardiganshire raider but fits in better with the family history.They  give the possibility that when his lands were overrun by Normans and incorporated into Shropshire, That KingGwaethfoed moved south looking for new lands.He appealed, the Ancient Welsh Studies site say, on  entering the north of Upper Gwent , to King Ynyr ap Cadwgan, and was given Merwydd ferch Ynyr as wife and lands where White Castle was later built. It is even possible Gwaethfoed came to Gwent as an invader/squatter and avoided armed conflict with its king by agreeing to marry Ynyr's daughter. Ynyr is dated  to c. 1030 and Merwydd to c. 1060 .The Theory that Merwydd married a Gwaithfoed of Gwent seems more reasonable, both as to geography and chronology.  His only known son is called Sir Gwyn, born c. 1075, builder of Gwyn's Castle now known as ‘White Castle’ (white also being the translation of ‘Gwyn’. ) So much for the genealogy of Gwyn. About the year 1100, Sir Drew de Baladon (or Balun) invaded upper Gwent as a retainer of the Marcher Lord Roger fitz William fitz Osbern. Ynyr and Gwaithfoed,confronted them but it apppears bloodshed was averted by both Welshmen for their sons to marry de Baladon's daughters. Sir Gwyn ap Gwaithfoed married Emma de Baladon. Sir Dryw ap Gwaithfoed was probably his son, who was father to Aeddan,  born around 1165. Aeddan , seemingly by now seems to be living at Grysmwnt or Grosmont, grew up a pious and faithful youth. He is mentioned in the Journey through Wales by Gerald the Welshman. I have already blogged about the route that (Catholic) Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury took through Gwent from Llanthony, Patrishow (St Issui’s Shrine)Monmouth, Abergavenny, Usk, Newport etc. This Aeddan took the cross from Baldwin, becoming a Crusader knight. The ceremony was performed as Baldwin, accompanied by Gerald the Welshman, Archdeacon of St David’s was proceeding from Abergavenny to Usk..........a certain nobleman of those parts named Arthenus came to the Archbishop ,who was proceeding towards the castle of Usk and humbly begged pardon for having neglected to meet him sooner. Being questioned as to whether he would take the cross, he replied ‘That could not be done without the advice of his friends’, The Archbishop then asked him, ‘are you not going to consult your wife?’ He modestly answered, with a downcast look. ‘When the work of a man is to be undertaken, the counsel of a woman ought not to be asked’ and instantly received the cross from the Archbishop’.....(The itinery of Archbishop Baldwin(Third Crusade 1188) It is recorded, that soon after this, fired by his commitment, Aeddan and his sons founded three new chapels (which may have been founded on more ancient sites)Aeddan’s Chapel in Clytha, Bettws Newyd[...]

Heartwarming and Uplifting Epiphany Meditation at Belmont Abbey and a poem


Epiphany Meditation                  Such a great afternoon yesterday, when I  drove up through a balmy and sunny Monmouthshire landscape into the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Ergyng where Belmont Abbey is in modern Herefordshire. Belmont, I understand was originally built as the Cathedral for Newport. We had already been to a lovely Mass at Abergavenny but after the frenetic rushing around before and after Christmas, the Meditation at Belmont, which included two Spanish carols, which were movingly sung by Father Abbot and one of the brothers from Peru who was spending Christmas and Epiphany at the Abbey.Una estrella que llama en la noche and  De Luz nueva se viste la terra.  The parish choir sang some lovely things, the Epiphany Hymn, 'How Brightly Shines the Morning Star'  and a 'Untous a child is born' not the usual 'puer nobis nascitur from 'Piae Cantiones' but a more unusual version, with a rrefrain for the congregation. There were some beautiful prayers from ancient liturgies of Our Lady.These meditations, were of extraordinary beauty and insight, and were interspersed with the carols you might expect, 'Bethlehem of Noblest Cities',  'As with gladness men of Old', 'We three Kings', 'O Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness', and the 'First Nowell'. The organist delighted with the testing chorale Prelude:' Wie Schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern' (How brightly shines the Morning Star' by Bach played I believe by Mr Tom Hempson. Amongst the shimmering candles and rich decorations, the relaxed and quiet mood made this an inspirational hour, quite different from Christmas excitement, and getting to the heart of the miracle of Christ coming to the gentiles, drawing the Whole world to theFather. The liturgical chants were especially moving in this setting. Ecce advenit , Vidimus stellam eius (We have seen his Star) rang around the Abbey, as it has been sung over the centuries by our Benedictine Monks.It occurred to me that the highlight of the BBC's surprisingly (on the whole) faithful 'Nativity' TV series last year curiously finished with the Wise Men, (they were not neccessarily kings, nor three,) bowing before the Infant God-Man , Christ the Child. The line in one of the Belmont hymns, 'Bow down before Him, His Glory proclaim' seemed apposite and moving. We were able to reflect, the Lamb was born in a cave, associated with Shepherds. He was born in Bethlehem, which means THE TOWN OF BREAD and placed within a MANGER (an eating place for the animals) Both heavily pointing to the Eucharist. The quiet atmosphere allowed these insights and all was beautifully done.Remembering the birth of my own son, I thought of Mary, poor girl, nine months pregnant having to ride all those miles on a donkey and give birth in a lowley animal shed.Afterwards people took the trouble to walk around the wonderful displays, especially the crib above and take photographs, as well as to pray prayers of thanks for the grace of such a wonderful meditation in beautiful surroundings. The faith and love of the monks, is shown in the tremendous care they take in carefully preparing the whole church for the feast, slightly after the Twelfth Night, and yet still in Christmastide, which the church will continue to celebrate until Candlemas on February 2nd. Refreshments, pies, biscuits and drinks of various kinds were a[...]



This may interest some of you, the Nidus Choirs, Children and Adults singing O Holy Night. The song is available on iTunes. I am singing the solo, just out of interest. The blog will be returning shortly. We have had to take my mother, who has Alzheimers on a Christmas Trip to Germany, her homeland where she has not been for ten years and prior to that the time has been taken up by trips down to Wales to promote and sell the CD 'Christmas in Wales'. The Album is available via download from iTunes or you can buy it at  and it is all badly needed funds for their forthcoming competitions, which always cost a lot of money.