Posted by: anna | July 26, 2011

St Dogfan of Dyfed

Today (13 July) in the calendar of early British saints we commemorate the Hieromartyr Dogfan (Doewan) of Dyfed (6th C). From Baring Gould & Fisher:
S. DOEWAN, Martyr
This Saint’s name occurs in the genealogies as Doewan, Dogwan, and Dogfan, and elsewhere also as Doewon, Doefon, Dwywan, Dwywon. In the later genealogies he is given as a son of Brychan Brycheiniog, but his name does not occur in either of the Cognatio versions. In the Calendars his name is always given as Doewan. He is not to be confounded, as is sometimes done, with Dyfan, of Lucius fame. He was slain by the pagan Saxons at Merthyr Dogwan, in Dyfed, where his church is, but its situation is not known, nor is it easy to understand how the Saxons had got into South-west Wales at that time.
He is the patron of Llanrhaiadr ym Mochnant, Denbighshire, which adjoins Llangynog, dedicated to his half-brother, Cynog, whose mother Banadlined or Banhadlwedd was probably a native of Llanrhaiadr. Local tradition points out a place called Buarth yr Hendre, in the parish, as the site of an old church, the site and graveyard of which are still visible. From the fact of its being in Cwm Doefon, and Ffynnon Ddoefon being in the same dell, it has been reasonably conjectured to have been the site of the original oratory founded by Doewan. The parish church name simply means ‘The Church near the waterfall in Mochnant’ (the commote).
His festival is entered against July 13 in a good number of Calendars of the fifteenth century and later. The Prymer of 1546 gives the 12th, no doubt in mistake. A great fair was held at Llanrhaiadr on his day (Old Style), and is still held on the 23rd and 24th.
The cloud-berries (Rubus Chamaemorus) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_chamaemorus, growing on the more alpine parts of the Berwyn, in this parish, are popularly called Mwyar Doewan, his berries. They are also known as Mwyar Berwyn. They are mentioned in Camden’s Britannia among the ”rare plants growing in Wales,” Chamaemorus Cambro-britannica sive Lancastrense Vaccinium nubis.” There is a tradition that whoever brought a quart of them ripe to the parson on the morning of the day of the Saint’s festival, had his ecclesiastical payments remitted for the year.
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Which is all to say that nothing whatever is actually known of his life. However, I am pleased to discover that cloudberries do grow in Britain.
  • St Dogfan’s church in Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant has one of Wales’ many ancient stone crosses, or as in this case cross-inscribed stones.
  • nice local history trail guide about the church
  • not mentioned on celt-saints except misspelled as Dofgan
Saint Dogfan, pray to God for us.
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