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1 May

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 1 May =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Asaph of Wales * St. Brioc of Brittany * St. Ceallach of Killala *
    Message 1 of 14 , May 1 2:39 AM
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      Celtic and Old English Saints 1 May

      * St. Asaph of Wales
      * St. Brioc of Brittany
      * St. Ceallach of Killala
      * St. Kevoca of Kyle

      St. Asaph of Llan-Elwy

      Like St.Deiniol, St.Asaph was a grandson of Pabo Post Prydyn, but he
      went to train under the great St.Kentigern and followed his master when
      he left Scotland to avoid persecution. The two of them first visited
      St.David at Menevia and then settled on land given to Kentigern by
      Cadwallon, father of Maclgwn, who was then King of Gwynedd, at a place
      in the valley of the river Elwy. Most of what we know of Asaph comes
      from the twelfth century Life of St.Kentigern by Joscelyn, a monk of

      Asaph had a great devotion to his master and Joscelyn relates that one
      very cold night when Kentigern had performed his usual discipline of
      reciting the psalter while immersed in freezing water, Asaph saw him
      crawl to his cell so numb with cold that he thought that he would die.
      He ran to fetch fire to warm the saint, and finding no pan in which to
      carry the embers, he gathered them up in the folds of his cloak and
      carried them without suffering hurt to his flesh or his clothing. This
      act so endeared him to Kentigern that shortly afterwards he ordained him
      to the priesthood, and when he returned to Glasgow, he appointed Asaph
      his successor as Abbot of Llan-Elwy.

      It is said that Kentigern left his church with 665 monks by the north
      door and subsequently that door was always kept closed in mourning,
      except on the Feast of St.Asaph. 300 monks remained with Asaph, who was
      held by them in great affection and reverence. These figures approximate
      to those given by John of Tynemouth in his description of the monastery
      in St.Kentigern's time. He says there were 995 brethren, 300 were
      illiterate and worked the land, 300 prepared the food and did the
      domestic work in the abbey, while the 365 who were learned sang the
      daily offices. The learned were divided into three choirs, which
      succeeded each other in rotation, so that prayer never ceased in the

      Asaph died in the year 596 and was buried at Llan-Elwy. We hear very
      little about this Christian centre for the next six hundred years except
      that the original wooden church was replaced by one of stone. The
      Normans made this church the Cathedral of an extensive diocese and much
      of the present building dates from the 13th century (Baring Gould and
      Fisher, Bowen).

      Another Life:

      St. Asaph of Wales, Bishop
      Died c. 600; feast day formerly on May 1. The small town of Saint Asaph
      in northern Wales was once the scene of a busy and thriving monastery,
      for here came Kentigern of Scotland who founded by the river side the
      monastery of Llanelwy. He was probably returning at the time from a
      visit to Saint David, and he had with him Asaph, his favourite pupil,
      whom he left behind at Llanelwy as abbot to consolidate his work. Others
      say that it was Saint Asaph who founded the abbey after having been
      trained by Kentigern--the truth is shrouded by time. There is, however,
      certainty that Saint Asaph founded the church of Llanasa in Flintshire.
      An interesting account exists of Llanelwy's establishment. "There were
      assembled in this monastery no fewer than 995 brethren, who all lived
      under monastic discipline, serving God in great continence." A third of
      these, who were illiterate, tilled the ground and herded the cattle; a
      third were occupied with domestic tasks inside the monastery; and the
      remainder, who were educated men, said the daily offices and performed
      other religious duties.

      A distinctive feature was its unbroken continuity of worship, for, like
      the Sleepless Ones, the monks of Llanelwy divided themselves into groups
      and maintained an unceasing vigil. "When one company had finished the
      divine service in the church, another presently entered, and began it
      anew; and these having ended, a third immediately succeeded them." So
      that by this
      means prayer was offered up in the church without intermission, and the
      praises of God were ever in their mouths."

      Among them, we are told, "was one named Asaph, more particularly
      illustrious for his descent and his beauty, who from his childhood shone
      forth brightly, both with virtues and miracles. He daily endeavoured to
      imitate his master, Saint Kentigern, in all sanctity and abstinence; and
      to him the man of God bore ever a special affection, insomuch that to
      his prudence he committed the care of the monastery." A later medieval
      writer penned about Asaph's "charm of manners, grace of body, holiness
      of heart, and witness of miracles." Still little is actually known about

      The story has been handed down to us that one bitter night in winter
      when Kentigern, as was his custom, had been standing in the cold river
      reciting from the Psalter, and had crawled back to his cell, frozen and
      exhausted, Asaph ran to fetch hot coals to warm him. Finding no pan,
      however, and being in great haste, fearing that the shivering abbot
      might die, he raked the glowing coals into the skirt of his monk's
      habit, and ran with them, at great risk and discomfort, and cast them on
      the hearth of the saint.

      That story is typical of his spirit, for he was devoted both to his
      master and to the welfare of his monks. We are not surprised that
      Kentigern, with every confidence, left the monastery in his care. Under
      Asaph's leadership it flourished, and when Asaph was made bishop, it
      became the seat of his diocese. The goodness of one man spread and
      infected many others with holiness, including many of his kinsmen, e.g.,
      Deiniol (September 11) and Tysilo (November 8). Today on the banks of
      the River Elwy stands the cathedral that bears his name (Attwater,
      Benedictines, Gill).

      St. Brioc the Traveller, Bishop of Brittany
      (Bryan, Brieuc, Briocus)
      Born in Cardiganshire, Wales; died in Brittany, c. 510; feast of his
      translation is October 18. Brioc was the founder of a monastery near
      Treguier, Brittany, which grew into the town and see called
      Saint-Brieuc. He was probably born in Ceredigion (Cardiganshire).
      According to legend, his father was named Cerpus and his mother was
      Eldrude, both of whom he is said to have converted following his

      Brioc appears to have worked in southwestern Britain before migrating to
      Brittany; there is a place called Saint Breock or Breoke in Cornwall and
      Saint Briavels in the Forest of Dean is at root the same name. Saint
      Brioc's medieval biography contains a number of particulars and
      marvellous tales, but its historicity is slight. It says, for instance,
      that Brioc was trained
      in Gaul by Saint Germanus of Auxerre, who died in 448, which makes it
      highly unlikely.

      Brioc is reputed to have built a famous church called Grande-Lann, where
      he gathered a number of disciples. In Treguier, he converted a wealthy
      nobleman named Conan who provided the funds to build a monastery in
      northern Armorica. Then Brioc is said to have returned to Britain and
      with the help of his relative, Prince Rigald of Domnonia, built the
      church of Saint Stephen there.

      Brioc is styled a bishop in an inscription in marble at his shrine built
      in 1210, but it is not certain that he was a bishop; more likely he was
      an abbot of the Celtic type who kept a bishop in his monastery because
      no evidence claims his successor in the see, which dates only to 844.
      Brioc's relics were translated to the abbey of Saint-Sergius in Angers
      in the mid-9th century to protect them from Norse invaders. In 1210, an
      arm, two ribs, and some cervical bones were given back to Saint Brieuc's
      (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).

      In art, Saint Brioc is a bishop with a fiery pillar above him. He is
      venerated in Treguier, Brittany, and Cornwall (Roeder). Because of the
      legends regarding his great charity, Brioc is considered the patron of
      purse-makers (Farmer).

      Troparion of St Brioc tone 1
      O holy Brioc, Enlightener of the lands of Wales and Brittany:/ with
      miracles thou didst preach Christ in thy life,/ and in death thy
      fragrance proclaimed thy glory. Pray to Christ our God that our souls
      may be saved.

      St. Ceallach (Kellach) of Killala, Bishop
      6th century. A disciple of Saint Kieran of Clonmacnoise, Saint Ceallach
      became bishop of Killala but ended his life as a hermit, perhaps as a
      martyr (Benedictines).

      St. Kevoca (Kennotha, Quivoca) of Kyle, Virgin
      7th century; feast day may be March 13 instead. She is venerated at
      Kyle, Scotland (Benedictines).


      Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY:
      Penguin Books.

      Baring-Gould, S. & Fisher, J. (1907) The Lives of the British
      Saints. 4 volumes. Charles J Clarke.

      Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
      (1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

      Bowen, Paul. When We Were One: A Yearbook of the
      Saints of the British Isles Complied from Ancient Calendars.

      Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
      Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Gill, F. C. (1958). The Glorious Company: Lives of Great
      Christians for Daily Devotion, vol. I. London:
      Epworth Press.

      Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
      Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
      London: Virtue & Co.

      Roeder, Helen. (1955). Saints and Their Attributes.
      Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

      These Lives are archived at:
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