No British/Celtic saints are listed in the Orthodox calendar for today, but one has turned up to introduce himself anyway! I had an enquiry from Aberyscir, which was so oddly spelled for a Welsh place name that I looked it up and discovered that its parish church is dedicated to St Cynidr and St Mary. Cynidr? another search…
St Cynidr has no surviving written life – he flourished in southeast Wales ca. 600, features in the regional kinship links among Welsh saints, kings and king-saints, and seems to have founded some churches, several of which are still dedicated to him.
There is a brief article in the Welsh Biography Online and he has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (copyright, available online via subscription, many public libraries subscribe. A fair amount is freely available, too. ) Although I use it all the time for work, I hadn’t thought of the ODNB as a source for British saints’ lives! But it certainly is – there’s a whole theme of ‘Saints in the Oxford DNB‘ including LOTS of Orthodox saints of the British Isles.
It’s a brilliant resource for all kinds of interesting biographies, and the themes, a digital-age innovation for the ODNB, are a fantastic way of finding out about a whole group or circle of people and their place in history. And now they’ve even gone all hip with a series of freely available podcasts of featured Lives.
This has made me think to look up Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), founding bishop of the Diocese of Sourozh and founder of the Sourozh children’s camps, for whom we prayed at the camp’s Panikhida yesterday. Nicolai Zernov is also in the ODNB, and searching for ‘Eastern Orthodox’ or ‘Orthodox Christian’ (though not ‘Orthodox Christianity’!) turns up all sorts of (English) thinkers and writers who have been intrigued and influenced by Orthodoxy across the ages.
So the ‘chance’ encounter with a Welsh saint of 14 centuries ago, the details of whose life and witness are now known to God alone, has led me to all sorts of interesting discoveries and food for thought today!