Posted by: anna | April 29, 2010

St Padarn

Today (16 April) we commemorate St. Padarn, Missionary and Wonderworker, founder of Llanbadarn Fawr (550). From Baring-Gould:

S. PADARN, B. OF VANNES. (about A.D. 560.)
[Anglican Martyrologies of Porter and Wytford and Alford. Venerated on this day anciently in Wales and in Brittany. Authorities:—A life by John of Tynemouth, (d. circ. 1360) ; a Latin metrical life by John, son of Sulgen, who was B. of S. David’s, in 1070, and mention by Venantius Fortunatus, a contemporary.]

Padarn, Pedrwn, or Paternus, as he is called in Latin, was the son of Pedrwn, and Gwen, his wife, at Emyr Llydaw, in Brittany. Padarn, his father, went to Ireland, where he became a monk, leaving the charge of the child to his wife. When the little Padarn asked his mother whether he had a father alive, she answered weeping, “Yes, my child, but he lives to God and not to the world.” In the year 516, according to Usher, though no ancient authority is given for this date, Padarn came to Britain. According to Achau y Saint, Padarn, after his arrival in Wales, became a member of the college of S. Iltut (Illtyd.) He afterwards established a religious society, consisting of a hundred and twenty members, at a place in Cardiganshire, called since Llanbadarn Fawr, where he also founded an episcopal see, of which he became the first bishop. How long Llanbadarn continued to be the capital of a bishopric cannot be ascertained, as very little is known of its history, and the last notice of it, under that character, in the Welsh chronicles, is in the year 720. It is reported, however, to have lost its privileges through the turbulent conduct of its inhabitants, who killed their bishop, and the diocese was in consequence annexed to that of Menevia. From the Latin hexameters of Johannes Sulgenus, it may be learned that Padarn presided over the see twenty-one years, during which time he spent his life in prayer, tears, fasting, hospitality, and attendance on the sick ; and the Triads assert that he went about the country preaching the faith in Christ without pay or reward to all ranks of people, for which reason he was counted one of ” the blessed visitors” to the isle of Britain. It is mentioned by John of Tynemouth, that he built monasteries and churches throughout the whole region of Ceretica; and that he rebuked Maelgwn Gwynedd, from whom he had received certain injuries in an excursion of that prince into South Wales ; but no other incidents of the time spent at Llanbadarn are recorded, upon the truth of which any reliance may be placed. At the expiration of the twenty-one years he returned to his native country, where he was made bishop of Vannes. A dissension, however, broke out between him and the other Armorican bishops ; upon which a synod was convened, and a reconciliation effected. Notwithstanding this, he continued to dread their hostility, and retired to the Franks, among whom he remained to the close of his life. He subscribed the decrees of the Council of Paris held in 557, and is commended both as an abbot and a bishop in the writings of Venantius Fortunatus, a Latin poet of Gaul, who was his contemporary.

Thou didst confirm the truth of the Gospel/ by working many miracles, o glorious father Padarn./ Thou didst accompany St David to his consecration at Jerusalem/ and return with him to Wales./ Pray to Christ our God that we may be found faithful throughout our earthly pilgrimage/ and may receive his great mercy.
– translation of the Latin Vita Sancti Paterni
I am somewhat dismayed not to find an icon of St Padarn, but perhaps that’s only because I have the Aberystwyth connection with him! And I’ve been idly looking at Google maps round about Aberystwyth, just to see what other saints’ names turn up – so many placenames in Wales begin with ‘Llan’ (church) which is followed by the name of the saint, easily confusing because of the initial consonantal mutations in Welsh – e.g. Llanbadarn = St Padarn, Llanfihangel = St Michael’s, Llanfair = St Mair/Mary. There are also placenames with ‘Eglwys’, or church (compare French e’glise). I will not look them up now, because I want to work methodically through the calendar at least one round first, but (looking as far south as Cardigan and staying close to the coast) so far I’ve found:
– St. Cynddelig of Fron Capel in the Mabws Valley
– Llanarth
– Llangrannog
– Llaingarreglwyd
– Llanafan
– Llanddeiniol
– Llangwyryfon
– Llanilar
– Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn
– Llandre (a red herring – tre or tref means house or farm, later town – so this is Church Farm)
– Llangynfelyn
That’s quite a few to be going on with, one day!

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