Wales has a multitude of holy places, from quaint village chapels, to high status churches and ancient monasteries, to the more out of the ordinary holy wells and streams, and even one or two places of worship for the spell casters. In this section I will endeavour to point you in the direction of a few of these. Although there are literally hundreds to choose from, I feel that information on the better-known places such as Tintern Abbey in Gwent and Holywell in Clwyd to name just two can be easily found by searching other sites on the web. In this section I will try and guide you to the lesser-known but more unusual places of worship, giving you the reasons for their holiness and any tales and fables attached to them. These holy places are not in any order, but are written here as my notes dictate. Pictures in black and white are awaiting my own photographic trip, or they no longer exist or access is no longer allowed
Local legend states that Patrick was shipwrecked on Ynys Badrig (Patrick�s Island also known as Middle Mouse) which can be seen from the stile in the churchyard wall. He succeeded in crossing to Anglesey, and finding refuge in Ogof Badrig (Patrick�s Cave). The cave is situated below the churchyard and had a freshwater well - Ffynon Badrig (Patrick�s Well). The fresh water allowed Patrick to recover from his ordeal and he founded the church as thanks to God,
The church is a simple building 60ft long x 14ft wide (18.5m x 4.3m) and has resisted the elements for centuries. The early church would have been smaller and built of wood. It is probable that this early church, like most native Celtic churches had no division between the nave and the chancel. The chancel arch was built later in the 14th century. The earliest stone on this site is the top of the font, which was made in the 12th century.
The stonework of the east window dates from the late 15th or early 16th centuries - it was probably around this time that the church was enlarged to its present size.
In 1812 the church was repaired and the house T?�n LIan, adjacent to the church, was built. Further work was carried out in 1840 and 1884 when the church was fully restored as it is today. The 3rd Lord Stanley of Alderley (Cheshire) provided funds for the extensive restoration on condition that the new interior includes elements of his own Moslem faith.
Moslem influences within the church include the predominance of blue, red and white in the stained glass windows, the blue glass of the east window, the blue tiles around the sanctuary and the Pastor Bonus mosaic. Both the blue tile in the sanctuary and the mosaic were custom produced by a very exclusive London firm who also have work in St Margaret�s, the chapel of Westminster.
Sadly, on 1st June 1985, an arson attack destroyed half of the church, but with generous donations from people near and far, the whole was restored to its present glory, and re-opened for worship on 24th June 1987
Ynys Pyr (Dyfed)
St Dubricius set up the first monastery on Caldy Island and Piro was appointed as abbot. It seems he liked a drink or two, and sometimes indulged in three or four. One night in about 520A.D. he had one too many and, returning to his cell fell into the well. When his fellow monks found him he had drowned. Samson was then appointed as Piro`s successor. He tried in vain to stop the drinking habits. Finally defeated by problems of discipline, he left Caldy and retired with other faithful monks to stackpole. The monks took over an abandoned camp, which can still be seen today, and Samson settled into a cave on the side of the headland overlooking the sea
Llangendeirne(Dyfed) picture on left
A strange discovery was made here in the nineteenth century when the church was being retsored. Beneath the floor were found the skeletons of 497 men in layers five deep and closely packed. They had been buried all at the same time. Only adults were found and none had signs of injury. The church is dedicated to St Kentigern who spent time in Wales when driven from Scotland. There may have been a monastery here, and the remains are those of monks who died of yellow fever in 547.
Ogaf Gwyl Edi (Dyfed)
The Cave of St Eddy. In a valley below Llanedy church, half concealed by bushes on an outcrop of rock, is a small cave which St Eddy is supposed to have used as a hermitage in the sixth century. They say that his bed and his seat can still be seen hewn into the rock inside the cave.
Llanidan (Anglesey) picture on right
Dedicated to St Aidan, a seventh century bishop, this church was at one time quite large, but is now partially ruined. It contains the Maen Morddwyd (The Thigh Stone), Which resembles a human thigh. The stone is reputed to walk during the night and return by morning. If taken away from the church it has the ability to return under its own steam. Earl Hugh of Chester once invaded Anglesey and hearing about the famous walking stone decided to test the legend. Attaching iron chains to the stone and another large stone as anchor he cast them into the whirlpools of the Menai Straits. The stone was back in position the very next morning. At some time the stone has been cemented into the wall of the church, which no doubt ensures it will never walk again. Llanidan church also boasts a holy water stoup, which is never filled, but has never been found empty. The church is now in private hands and access is no longer allowed, which to all intents and purposes means it is now lost to the general public
Clynnog Fawr (Gwynedd)
In the sixth century St Beuno founded a church here on land given to him by Cadwallon, king of Gwynedd. Today�s church is interesting in that it has a narrow passage about 15 feet long at the south-west side which leads to a small chapel called Eglwys y Bedd. Some years ago beneath the floor of this chapel, the remains of a small rectangular dry stone building were found. There were thirteen burials at its external west end and an empty slab cist outside the south wall. It seems that the present day church was built to cover the founder�s church, part of the original cemetery and probably the grave of Beuno himself. His remains have now been moved to a new tomb in Eglwys y Bedd
Mathern Church
The name of this church is derived from Merthyr Teyryn, which means `the Martyr King`. It is the burial site of King Tewdrig who is claimed to be King Arthur�s grandfather. He bore the title `Uther Pendragon`, which means `Wonderful Commander`; this title was also given to his son Meurig and Arthur himself.
St Gwnw`s Church (Dyfed)pic right
Inside this church is a rough pillar stone bearing a Latin ring cross and the letters XPS, which is the Greek contraction for `Christus`. It is quite possible that this is the memorial stone of Hywel Dda (The Great), son of Catell, who died in 950 A.D., which would make it of great importance.
St Illtud`s Church (Gwynedd)
Inside this ancient church is a stone, resembling a coffin lid, which was found in 1876 among debris in an outbuilding. A Latin inscription reads `the footprint of Kenyric (Cynwrig) imprinted on the head of this stone before he set out for foreign parts`. A footprint can be seen on the stone. But its not known whether the `foreign parts` referred to Jerusalem or the Isle of Bardsey
Dolwyddelan Church (Gwynedd)
One of the treasures of this church in the Lledr valley is the Cloch Wyddelan or Gwyddelan`s bell, which many years ago was dug up on the site of the old church at Bryn y Bedd. It is made of cast bronze or sheet metal dipped in bronze. And still has its brass handle. Other similar bells have been found in Llangwynadl (Gwynedd), Llanrhyddlad (Gwynedd), Llangystenyn (Gwynedd), Llangennau (Powys) and Newcastle (Glamorgan).
Llanddwyn Island (Gwynedd)
On this tiny island can be seen the simple church of St Dwynen. She was said to be the daughter of Brychan, the king of Brycheiniog, and became the Welsh patron saint of lovers
St Tecla`s Chapel (Gwent)
On a rocky islet near the mouth of the Wye are the ruins of an ancient chapel that is reputed to have been founded originally in the fourth century. It is dedicated to St Tecla, the daughter of Requli Of Gwynedd. She abandoned the splendour of her father�s court and retired to this lonely rock to pray and meditate. Some Vikings landed on the island and murdered her. The stone chapel was built at a later date. The church in Llanelli (Clwyd) is also dedicated to her and was once reputed to have a well nearby that cured leprosy, known locally as clwy Tecla (St Tecla`s disease)
There are many more `Holy places` some of which are covered in areas such as Wells etc.
Click the forward button to continue on to Holy Wells
Llanbadrig (Anglesey) pictured on right
Thank you to Mr Robert O Williams, Hon Warden of Llandbadrig Church for the information on this most wonderful Church.
The Welsh name Llanbadrig means �Church of St Patrick�. This church founded in 441AD has a direct link to the patron saint of Ireland. The then Bishop Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity during the 5th Century.