has it that Cadoc was a native of Gwent, born in
the early part of the sixth century, the son of Gwynllyw ap
Glywys, a princeling of Gwent who founded St. Woolos Church
It is thought that he was baptised as Cathmail (Cadfael)
by an Irish monk called Tathan or Meuthi living in Caerwent
from whom he received his early education.
He founded his first monastery at Llancarfan in the Vale of
Glamorgan, and from there he went to Ireland to study for
three years. Returning to Wales, he studied with Bachan, a
teacher of rhetoric from Italy.
He then travelled to
Scotland where he founded a monastery at Cambuslang. Back at
Llancarfan, his influence helped it to grow into one of the
chief monasteries in South Wales.
tradition has it that he went on pilgrimage to Rome, but
more certain is the knowledge of time spent in Brittany. He
settled there on an island in the Etel river, now called
L'Ile de Cado, where he built an oratory, founded a
monastery and devoted himself to spreading the Gospel.
This monastery became quite important, although this may
have occurred after his time. According to legend, the
island was invaded by some pirates who destroyed the
monastery and Cadoc was forced to flee.
He returned to Llancarfan, was consecrated bishop and
remained there until he became too old to govern the
monastery. It is thought he spent his latter years at "Beneventum",
the location of which is not known.
He may have suffered martyrdom
there at the hands of the Saxons, but more certain is that
after his death, his relics were transferred to Llancarfan.
The most important source of information is the Life of
Cadog written by Lifris about 1100, which is the longest and
most significant of the Welsh Lives.
Although the Life
contains the numerous portents and miraculous happenings of
the early Medieval tradition which were considered a
necessary element in the accounts of the saints, it is clear
that much of the material reflects genuine traditions.
is underlined by the fact that Lifris was abbot of
Llancarfan. In addition reference is made to Cadoc in the
Life of St. Samson, written early in the eighth century, and
in the Life of St. Gildas, written in the tenth century.
In Wales there are at least fifteen dedications to the saint
apart from Llancarfan. Some occur close to his
monastery in the Vale of Glamorgan, like Llanmaes and
greatest number are found in Gwent, obviously linked to his
possible birthplace, but spread as far as Gower in the west
and Llangattock in Powys in the north.
They may indicate the extent of his missionary activities,
but more likely it was his disciples and later monks of Llancarfan who spread his cult and founded churches
dedicated to their founding saint.
On the third Sunday of
September a major Pardon is held on the Isle of St. Cado,
according well with the celebration of Cadoc's feast in
Cardiff on 25th September. Elsewhere his traditional feast
day is January 24th.
St. Illtud's Disciples - Page 2
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