The Celtic Literature Collective

The Life of St. Dubricius

I. There was a certain King of the region of Ergyng (Arcbellfield) of the name of Pebiau, called in the British language Claforawg, and in Latin, Spumosus, who undertook an expedition against his enemies, and returning from thence he ordered his daughter Eurddil to wash his head, which, when she endeavoured. to do, he perceived from her enlarged form, that she was pregnant. The King therefore being angry, ordered her to be put into a sack, and cast headlong into the river, that she might suffer whatever might befall; which, however, happened contrary to what was expected, for as often as she was placed in the river, so often was she, through the guidance of God, impelled to the bank. Her father then being indignant because he could not drown her in the river, resolved to destroy her with fire. A funeral pile was therefore prepared, into which his daughter was thrown alive. In the following morning, the messengers who bad been sent by her father to ascertain whether any of the bones of his daughter remained, found Tier holding her son in her lap, at a spot where a stone is placed in testimony of the wonderful nativity of the boy; and the place is called Madle, because therein was born the holy man. The father hearing this, ordered his daughter with her son to be brought to him; and when they came, he embraced the infant with paternal affection, as is usual, and kissing him, from the restlessness of infancy, he touched with his bands the face and mouth of his grandfather, and that not without divine appointment; for by the contact of the hands of the infant, he was healed of the incurable disease wherewith he was afflicted, for he incessantly emitted foam from his mouth, which two persons, who constantly attended him, could scarcely wipe off with handkerchiefs.

II. Who, when he knew that he had been healed by the touch of the infant, rejoiced greatly, like one who had come to a harbour after having suffered shipwreck. And lie, who at first was as a roaring lion, was now turned to a lamb, and he began to love the infant above all his sons and grandsons; and of that place, Madle, (that is, Mad, good, lle, place, and whence Madle, a good place,) he made him heir, and also of the whole island, which took its name from his mother Eurddil, that is, Ynys Eurddil, which by others is called Macs Mail Leckea. And from that hour lie increased in growth, and knowledge; being sent to a seminary of learning, he proceeded cheerfully, and with great devotion; and although a child in age, he was soon a man in maturity, with great prudence, and eloquence in imparting knowledge. And when he became a man in growth, age, and wisdom, and skilful in both the modern and ancient law, his fame extended throughout all Britain, so that from all parts, not only scholars who were uninstructed came, but also learned men and doctors flocked to him for the sake of study, particularly St. Teilo, Samson his disciple, Ufclwy, Merchwyn, Elgwored, Gwmyn, Cynwal, Arthfod, Cyngar, Arwystyl, Junabui, Cynfrari, Gworfan, Aelhaearn, Iddnen, Gwardogwy, Gwernabwy, Ieuan, Aidd an, Cynfarch. And with those, he retained two thousand clergy for seven successive years at Henllan, on the banks of the Wye, in the literary study of divine and human wisdom; setting forth to them in himself an example of religious life, and perfect charity.

III. And during another space of time, he remained with his numerous disciples for many years, directing their studies, in his native district, namely, Ynys Eurddil, having chosen a place convenient for wood and fish, in a corner of that island, on the banks of the Wye, giving it the name of Mochros, that is, Moch, hogs, rhos a place, Mochros in the British language signifying the Place of Hogs. And rightly was it so called, for, during the preceding night, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, “See that thou, on the morrow, go all round the place which thou hast proposed and chosen, and where thou wilt see a white sow lying with her pigs, there lay a foundation, and build in the name of the holy Trinity a habitation, and an Oratory.” The man of God having awoke from his sleep, and being mindful as usual of the angelic precept, immediately went round the place with his disciples; and as the voice of the angel had promised to him, a white sow, with her young pigs, got up before them; and there he immediately founded and constructed an Oratory and a habitation, where for many years he regularly lived, preaching, and giving instruction to the clergy and people, his doctrine shining throughout all Britain, as a candle on a candlestick, and the whole British nation preserved the true faith without any stain of false doctrine.

IV. As the holy man shone in the doctrine granted to him, and also in noble parentage, and was eminent in eloquence, virtue increased in his country, and a more abundant entrance of the people into paradise. As the labour of his body increased, the more he rejoiced on account of the greatness of the burden, expecting a recompence in a mansion of the heavenly country. The sick were healed, and cured of various disorders by the laying on of his hands; and that I might relate sonic out of many things, Dubricius of blessed memory, visited the residence of St. Illtyd, in the season of Lent, that he might correct what wanted amendment, and confirm what should be observed. For there resided at the place many very holy persons, and also many who were affected with envy. Among those that lived there was brother Samson, the son of Amon, who obtained from the said father, that at the episcopal seat, on the day of his ordination, first, a deacon, secondly, a priest, and thirdly, a bishop, a white dove should descend on his head, which was seen by the holy Archbishop, and by the Abbot Illtyd, during the whole time of his ordination. The business of the house of St. Illtyd was divided between the brethren; the ecclesiastical affairs were performed by such persons as they best suited, and the offices were distributed among the brethren. The care of the cellar was, by his advocates, granted to St. Samson, who, day and night, served the clergy to their satisfaction, and also pleased the common people.

V. On a certain day, when he had filled the cups of the guests, and all the vessels of the cellar were become empty on the occasion of such great joy as the visit of St. Dubricius and his family; it was mentioned by an envious person that the Steward had altogether wasted the drink; for having enjoyed the same office, and being deprived of it, he envied the brother Samson, because of his bountiful band. Hearing the murmuring of the congregation against him, and being ashamed of so much complaint, be came to St. Dubricius, and related to him all things in order, saying, “Holy father, flower of thy country, give me thy assistance.” St. Dubricius, on hearing his request, prayed to God, that with respect to the distress which Samson suffered, he might liberate him; and being induced by fatherly affection, he went to the cellar, in company with Samson. And as it is said, “The Lord is wonderful among his saints,” he raised his hand, and pronounced a blessing, which being uttered, marvellous relation! immediately the vessels overflowed afresh, as if they had been that hour filled with liquor as usual; and the evil effort of envy being got rid of, they were renewed, and what was given away by bestowing bountifully was restored by prayers as a remuneration.

VI. As the people were, according to custom, flying for succour to St. Dubricius, and recovering the health of their souls and bodies, there came a certain wealthy man, descended from royal ancestors, named Gwyddgeneu, beseeching him on bended knees, that he would release his daughter Arganhell, who was possessed by a demon, and was so far afflicted, that when her hands were bound with cords, one could hardly hold her from being drowned in the river, or burnt in the fire, or from destroying every thing about her with her teeth. O, how excellent a thing it is to serve God, who holds all things by his government, and subjects them to his will! The pious father having heard his intreaty, prayed to the Lord, and falling to the ground with flowing tears, besought God that by the intercession of St. Peter the prince of the apostles, and of all the saints, he would succour the diseased. Forthwith, in the presence of her father and relatives, the cords were broken, the evil spirit completely left her, her health and entire reason were recovered, and she received her former state anew, and in every respect improved. She then forthwith acknowledged her own weakness, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, renounced the world; and having preserved the chastity of virginity, and remaining under the protection of the holy man, she led an improved life until she died.

VII. The holy man observing that his life was not sufficient for himself and the people, and being weary through infirmities and old age, resigned the laborious office of a Bishop, and for many years lived solitarily, leading the life of a hermit, with many ho1y men and his disciples, who lived by the labour of their hands, in the isle of Bardsey, and there he gloriously ended his life. Which island is, according to the British custom, and anciently, and as a proverb, called the Rome of Britain, on account of the dangerous passage by sea to it, and its distance, being situated at the extremity of the kingdom, and for its sanctity, because there were buried therein the bodies of twenty thousand holy confessors and martyrs, anti its reputation, for it was surrounded on all sides by sea, having a lofty promontory on the eastern side, and its western coast plain and fertile with a sweet flowing fountain; was partly maritime and abounded with dolphins; was completely free from serpents and frogs, and no one died therein in the life time of a brother who was older than himself. And as his survivors had venerated him, and considered him as a father, when corporeally with them, so they afterwards applied to him, as an intercessor with God, and the defender of all the saints of the whole island, and of the whole country. A few miracles only, out of many, are committed to writing, because the records were either consumed by the fires of the enemy, or carried away to a far distance in the fleet of citizens when banished. But what were afterwards discovered and obtained from the monumental tombs of old persons, and the writings of very ancient authors; in what situation be was buried in the place of sepulture of holy men in Bardsey, which was the exact spot, and by whom, and bow he was buried; in the time of what princes, Pope, Emperor, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Bangor, he was from thence removed to Llandaff, we commit to writing, and memory.It was in the time of Calixtus, Pope; Henry, Emperor of the Romans; Ralph, Archbishop of Canterbury; Henry, King of England; David, Bishop of Bangor; Urban, Bishop of Llandaff.

VIII. On Sunday, the 14th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 612, St. Dubricius, Bishop of the church of Llandaff, migrated to the Lord. On Friday, the 7th day of May, in the year 1120, being leap year, he yias removed from the isle of Bardsey, by Urban, Bishop of the flame church, with the approbation and consent of Ralph, Metropolitan of the church of Canterbury, and the assent of David, Bishop of the church of Bangor, and in his presence likewise, and of Griffith, King of North Wales, and with the applause of all the clergy and people; and on Sunday, the 23d day of May, he was received into his church of Llandaff, when there was a procession, and the holy cross, with abundance of relics, was carried; and on whose arrival there was plenty of rain, which was much wanted by the people, for it had not rained even a drop for seven weeks and upwards throughout the district of Glamorgan. On Wednesday, the 2nd day of June, the aforesaid Bishop of good memory, after the labour undergone, and on account of the obtaining of so great joy to himself and the church for having procured so great a patron, and fasting and prayer having been made, called together his canons, and his brother Esni, who was Dean of the same church, and a man of chastity, and very great prudence, and also his chaplain, named Isaac, a man of great shrewdness and ability. And the sacred relics of St. Dubricius being laid on the ground, were placed together that they might be prepared, the dust separated, and be washed with water after so long a journey. Being put with their own hands, out of reverence towards so great treasure and the whole country, into three basons before the altar of Peter the apostle, and the holy confessors Dubricius, Teilo, and Oudoceus; immediately, by the touch of the holy relics, the water bubbled on all sides in a marvellous manner, as if a great red hot stone had been thrown into it. And they did not only wonder, being amazed at the various ebullitioris throughout the whole bason, but also because they perceived the water to be very hot. Not only for a short time, or the space of a moment, but also, as long as they were alternately moved by them in common in the water, so long the water increased in heat to the end of the ablution; and not only the sight and touch perceived this miracle, but the hearing likewise, for the sound of the bubbling of the heated liquid was heard.

IX. Those things having been seen, heard, and felt, as the “Lord is wonderful among his saints,” the Bishop took a bone of the arm, and handling it, for great joy put it into the water, and when it was at the bottom of the water, it moved itself there for the space of more than an hour, no one moving it but the power of God. Which he alone having at first seen, he called the Dean to him, who was near, that he might see the moving of the bone, and water, and also the Chaplain; as every testimony should be in the mouth of two or three witnesses; and they returned thanks to God for so great a miracle. Which being seen, the relics of St. Dubricius were, for the praise and exaltation of the church of God, placed in a tomb suitable for the purpose, and in the old monastery, before the altar of St. Mary, towards the north side.

And the aforesaid prelate, of good memory, observing the small size of the place, being in length 28 feet, in breadth 15, and height 20, and with two aisles, one on each side, of very small size and height, and a porch, of a round form, 12 feet in length and breadth, with the advice of Ralph, Archbishop of the church of Canterbury, and all the clergy and people of the same, began to build a greater monastery in honour of Peter the apostle, and of the holy confessors, Dubricius, Teilo, and Oudoceus, on Wednesday, the 14th day of April, in the year 1120; and having received for himself and his church letters of the Lord Archbishop, with a blessing and pardon to all who would give their assistance, the work was commenced.


The Liber landavensis. ed. by the Rev. W. J. Rees. The Welsh MSS. Society. Llandovery, W. Rees, 1840.

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