Saints in Medieval Wales

Wall painting of St Christopher

St Christopher, fifteenth century, Church of St Illtud, Llantwit Major, Glamorgan
Photo © Martin Crampin

Cadwed f’enaid, synned sŷr,
Catwg fawr wrthfawr ferthyr.

May Cadog the great powerful martyr
keep my soul, let the stars be amazed!

Rhisiart ap Rhys, c.1500

 

Saints were called upon for healing and protection, and for their help in achieving eternal salvation. Their images and relics were found in the churches in which they were venerated and visited by pilgrims.

The opening of Bonedd y Saint

The opening of Bonedd y Saint, NLW Llanstephan 28,
c.1150–1250.
Courtesy National Library of Wales

Medieval texts reveal a wealth of tradition concerning local saints in Wales, as well as saints known across the Christian world. According to these traditions, saints performed miracles, fought with giants and monsters, and raised the dead, but were also prepared to die for their faith. Prose ‘Lives’ and poems were written in Latin and in Welsh, and those that survive allude to other lost narratives, and attempt to make sense of conflicting traditions.

Few of these sources were written prior to the eleventh century and all are much later than the historical period in which the men and women later celebrated as saints founded their churches and monasteries in early medieval Wales.

 

The material on this page and on those listed below are taken from the exhibition that recently toured Bangor, St Davids, Llantwit Major and Holywell.

Verses to the Saints
Lives of the Saints
Genealogies of the Saints
Saints in Modern Times