Posted by: anna | September 24, 2010

St Deiniol, abbot of Bangor

Icon of St Deiniol by the hand of Aidan Hart. This and another icon image from WSIP.
Today (11 September) we commemorate St Deiniol (Daniel), abbot of Bangor, bishop in Clwyd, not to be confused with his son Deiniolen or Deiniol the Younger, whose feast is 22 November. From Baring-Gould and Fisher:
S. DEINIOL or DANIEL, Abbot, Bishop, Confessor
There is extant a Latin Life of S. Deiniol or Daniel, but it has never been published. Only one copy of it is known, which occurs in Peniarth MS 226, and was transcribed from an ” ancient ” MS. by Sir Thomas Williams, of Trefriw, in 1602. It is entitled Legenda novem lectionum de S, Daniele Ep’o Bangoriensi. A poem, written in 1527, by Sir David Trevor, parson of Llanallgo, of which there is a copy in Cardiff MS, 7, also gives a few details. The little that is known of him is of a very fragmentary character.
Deiniol was the son of Abbot Dinawd Fwr or Dinothus, son of Pabo Post Prydyn, by Dwywai, daughter of Lleenog. He is often called Deiniol Wyn, the Blessed. He was the brother of SS. Cynwyl and Gwarthan, and the father of S. Deiniolen ; but his wife’s name is nowhere mentioned.
Pabo and his family, having lost their territories in North Britain, retired to Wales, where they were well received by Cyngen ab Cadell Deyrnllwg, king of Powys, who granted them lands, and whose son and successor, Brochwel Ysgythrog, married Arddun, Pabo’s daughter. His son Dunawd, embracing the religious life, founded the monastery of Bangor in Maelor, otherwise Bangor Iscoed, on the Dee, with the assistance of Cyngen, who, as well as Brochwel, generously provided for it, and it remained, we are told, during its brief existence ” under the protection of the race of Cadell.”
The late Glamorgan hagiological documents printed in the Iolo MSS. state, for the glorification of Cadoc, that Dunawd’s three sons were disciples of Cadoc at Llancarfan, and that he sent them to be “directors and principals” of Bangor in Maelor, “and in consequence of the wisdom and piety of these three brothers it became the most honourable and numerous its saints of all the Bangors in Britain.” It is likely enough that they assisted their father in its foundation.
Deiniol, however, does not appear to have remained long at Bangor in Maelor. He left Powys for Gwynedd, where he founded the monastery of Bangor in Carnarvonshire, under the patronage of Maelgwn Gwynedd, who largely endowed it with lands and privileges, and, it is said, raised it to the rank of an episcopal see, conterminous, as today, with the principality of Gwynedd. Here Deiniol spent the remainder of his days, as abbot and bishop.
It is stated in the Book of Llan Dav that Deiniol was consecrated bishop of Bangor by Dubricius. A note of later date among its marginalia, however, says that it was Teilo that consecrated him, and that thus the see became subject to the archbishopric of Llandaff – a preposterous assertion. Rees was of opinion that he was probably consecrated by S. David, “as there was reason to assert that he and his relatives had lived for some time under the protection of that Saint at Llanddewi Brefi, where churches still retained their names.” He was apparently not aware of the Llandaff claim.
We know but little of Bangor in Arfon, or Bangor Fawr, as compared with some of the other Welsh monastic foundations. Some of the sons of Helig ab Glannog were saints or monks of it ; and on the destruction of Bangor Iscoed by Ethelfrid in 607 or 613 some of the monks that escaped came hither. Deiniol is said to have been succeeded by his son Deiniol the Younger ; and the next bishop whose name is known was Elfod “Bishop of Caergybi,” who ” removed his palace to Bangor Deiniol.” He is styled Archbishop of Gwynedd, and died in 809.
Deiniol was present at the Synod of Brefi, which took place some time before 569, probably in 545. It is represented that it was convened to put down Pelagianism, but what we know of the canons passed by the Welsh Church at this time shows that there was no concern felt about any heresy affecting the Church; what was under consideration was penitential regulations. No agreement having been come to by the Synod, Paulinus advised that S. David should be sent for ; he knew his worth and force of character. But the messengers despatched failed to induce him to come. At last Deiniol and Dyfrig went, and they succeeded in overcoming his scruples, and brought him with them.
Sir David Trevor, in his poem, speaks of Deiniol as “one of the seven blessed cousins,” who had spent part of his early life as a hermit “on the arm of Pembrokeshire,” but God called him to be a bishop, deficient though his education was. He performed many miracles. Thieves stole a ploughman’s oxen; Deiniol yoked stags in their stead, and made the thieves ” lie upon the ground like stones.”
A woman had taken poison ; she drank of the water of his well, and immediately threw up “numberless worms.” The Latin Legenda says that she was a woman of Caerwy, or Carew, in the neighbourhood of Pembroke, for whom physicians could do nothing. She came to the Church of S. Daniel, on the mountain, and, after drinking of the water of the well, returned to the door of the Church, and before all ” ex ore suo ejecit tres vermes horribiles cum quatuor pedibus in singulis.” [from her mouth she threw out three horrible worms with four feet each]
Deiniol received a somewhat extensive cult, especially in North Wales, to judge from the impress his name has left upon the topography. The Churches themselves dedicated to him are not many, and their distribution does not help one to ascertain the probable extent of his Diocese, on the principle adopted by Rees. He is the patron of the Cathedral Church of Bangor and also of the Diocese. The only memorial of him at Bangor Iscoed is Cae Ffynnon Daniel, mentioned in Norden’s Survey, 1620, as the name of a field in that parish. Hawarden Church has two dedication festivals, the one on December 10, S. Deiniol’s Day, and the other on September 14, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the latter probably in reference to the tenth century local legend of the Roodee. There is a place in the parish still called Daniel’s Ash. To him is also dedicated the Church of Marchwiel, near Wrexham. It is given by some as dedicated to S. Marcella (September 5, Browne Willis) or S. Marcellus, but these are mere guesses from the name. There is a tenement, of some fifteen acres, near the Church, called Tyddyn Daniel, purchased in 1626, and its rental is applied to “the repair and use of the Church ” (terrier, 1749). Browne Willis says that the church “was formerly called S. Daniel’s chapel, and belonged to the monastery of Bangor, and after its destruction took the present name, from the materials of which the former Church was built ” i.e., marchwiail, saplings. Worthenbury, in Flintshire, which until 1689 was a chapelry belonging to Bangor, is dedicated to Deiniol. To him are also dedicated the churches of Llanuwchllyn and Llanfor, near Bala, in the diocese of S. Asaph. It is said that the former was at some remote time called Llanddeiniol uwch y Llyn, and the latter Llanddeiniol is y Llyn, in contradistinction. It is generally supposed that Llanfor, like Llannor in Carnarvonshire, is dedicated to S. Mor ab Ceneu ; but the earlier form of both names was Llanfawr, i.e., the Large Church. Moreover, the wakes at Llanfor followed S. Deiniols Day, September 11, and there is a Ffynnon Ddaniel by the churchyard fence. Rees gives a Nantgyndanyll, in Carnarvonshire, as dedicated to him. It is now unknown, but it is probably a mistake for Llangwnadl (S. Gwynhoedl), also called Nangwnadl. In a document circa 1498 “an Isle in the See called Seynt Danyell’s Isle, otherwise called Ennys Moylronyon” (the Seals’ Island) is mentioned as belonging to the See of Bangor. It is off the north coast of Anglesey, and is now known as the Skerries.
In South Wales there are a few dedications to him : Llanddeiniol or Carrog, in Cardiganshire, at one time a prebend in the collegiate Church of Llanddewi Brefi ; and the chapel of S. Daniel or Deiniol. about a mile south of Pembroke, once attached to Monkton Prior. It was on an eminence, and in Fenton’s time had become a Methodist conventicle. The Church of Itton, in Monmouthshire, formerly called Llanddeiniol, is dedicated to him, and seems to be the Church mentioned in The Book of Llan Dav as Lann Diniul (Diniuil or Dineul). Llangarran (near the river Garran), in Herefordshire, is also ascribed to Deiniol. Near the Church of Penally, Pembrokeshire, is the Holy Well of S. Deiniol or Daniel, and another in the parish of Penbryn, Cardiganshire.
His festival day is given in the Welsh Calendars on September II, and occurs in a good number from the fifteenth century downwards. The Wakes at Llanuwchllyn and Llanfor were on this day, and a fair is still held at the former on the 22nd. December 1 is also given in Allwydd Paradwys and Willis’ Bangor (p. 272) ; and December 10 by Ussher and Rees. There was a fair held at Hawarden on the 10th (O.S.), and later on the 21st. Not a single early Calendar, however, enters him in December.
Deiniol died according to the Annales Cambriae in 584, and was buried in Bardsey.
He is represented,with SS. Asaph, Winefred, and Marchell, in fifteenth century glass in the chancel window of Llandymog Church, in the Vale of Clwyd. There was formerly a figure of him in a window on the south side of the Choir of Bangor Cathedral. Bishop Sheffington (died 1533) in his will directed that his body be buried at Beaulieu, and his Harte be caryed to Bangor, there to be buryed in the Cathedrall Churche, before the Pictour of Saint Daniell.”
He is not infrequently referred to or invoked by the mediaeval Welsh bards, and especially by Dafydd ab Gwilym and Lewis Glyn Cothi. The former exclaims in one passage, “Myn Delw Deinioel !” (By Deiniol’s image !)
He is mentioned in the Life of S. Elgar, who had been shipwrecked on Bardsey Island, and had lived there as a hermit for seven years. Caradog hearing of him, came to interview him. Elgar told him that holy spirits ministered to him day and night, and that, although separated from him, yet when he met them he knew them by their frequent intercourse. They were Dubricius, Daniel, bishop of the Church of Bangor, Padam, and many others, whose bodies lay buried in that island.
That he was for a while in Brittany is probable, as he is venerated there as S. Denoual, at a church bearing that name near Matignon in Cotes du Nord, and at Plangenoual in the same department, near Pleneuf ; also at La Harmoye, where Gildas had a settlement. There was a statue of him habited as a monk at Saint Denoual, which was destroyed during the Revolution in 1793. Ploudaniel, in Finisterre, does not apparently take its name from him, but from some British lay settler of the same name. He probably crossed in 547, flying from the Yellow Plague.
His festival is given by O’Gorman and Maguire, and in the Martyrologies of Donegal and Tallagh, as that of Daniel, Bishop of Bennchoir, on September 11, his generally received day of commemoration in Wales.
St Deiniol’s,’ ‘Britain’s only residential library’
Troparion of St Deiniol tone 4
By thy teaching and pious life thou didst shine forth in the age of Saints, O Hierarch Deiniol,/ and becoming Bangor’s first bishop thou wast an instrument of God’s grace, leading many to salvation./ Pray, O Saint, that we may be led into the Way of Truth that our souls may be saved.
Happy name day to Fr Deiniol in Blaenau! Many Years!
Holy St Deiniol, pray to God for us.

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