ST Dyfrig Feast 14th November

We sometimes forget that the diocese and cathedral of Llandaff, now part of the Church in Wales, were Catholic for anything up to a thousand years. I hope that everyone has visited Llandaff Cathedral, which is one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain, right on our doorstep. It has had a varied history, rebuilt by the Normans, enduring the Reformation and then centuries of neglect. It had a kind of mini-cathedral built inside its semi- ruins, and then was restored by the Victorians. Finally of course it was bombed in the Second World War and restored again, to include the huge and famous Majestas statue by Jacob Epstein.

The coat of arms of Llandaff diocese includes three mitres, representing three saints from the earliest days of Christianity here in South Wales: Teilo, Euddogwy – and Dyfrig. St Dyfrig (feast day Thursday) was of royal stock, born around 465AD, probably in Madley, west of present day Belmont Abbey. In Latin he is known as Dubricius and in Norman French as Devereux.

Noted for his intelligence, Dyfrig soon became widely known as a scholar. Then, called to the Celtic monastic life, Dyfrig founded monasteries at Hentland and Moccas near Hereford. Later he was ordained Bishop and his diocese seems to have included all of Glamorgan and Gwent, an area that would later become the Catholic diocese of Llandaff. He became the teacher of well-known Welsh saints, including St Teilo and St Samson, and also was good friends with others like St Illtud. He is believed to have attended the famous Synod of Llanddewi Brefi, where he is said to have resigned his see in favour of Saint David. He was known to heal the sick of various disorders through the laying on of hands. Other versions of his life, even tell how it was Dyfrig/Dubricius who crowned King Arthur, and he appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, and much later in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Eventually St Dyfrig retired to Bardsey Island off the Llyn peninsula in North Wales where he eventually died and was buried. When the Normans regularised the system of dioceses across most of England and Wales, they confirmed Llandaff as the see for Glamorgan and Gwent. In 1120 Dyfrig’s body was transferred to the cathedral there, where it probably still rests – somewhere. Churches dedicated to Saint Dyfrig/Dubricius can be found in various parts of Herefordshire and South Wales, including the Catholic parish church of Treforest and Pontypridd, St Dyfrig’s. St Dyfrig and saints of Wales, pray for us.

Fr Matthew

Archbishop calls for urgent action

Archbishop Stack writes: The Welsh Government wants to take away the rights of parents to withdraw their children from both Religious Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). They also want to dumb-down the subject of RE and force schools to teach children about worldviews instead.

The Church teaches that family is much more than just a unit in the culture or economy. Parents are the primary educators of their children and our schools aid them in that task. While parents may choose various modes of education for their children it remains the parents’ duty above anyone else’s to teach their children. This necessarily means remaining informed and involved in the education children are receiving and supplementing or moderating when the need arises. The proposals by the Welsh Government remove this fundamental basic right of parents.

Concern must also be taken when looking at the Religious Education provision for our children. For families who do not currently have the option of sending their children to a Catholic school, they must be allowed to retain the right to withdraw their child from RE in their own school. Also the proposed introduction of worldviews as a central focus for RE provision moves the subject away from a theological discipline into a more sociological model i.e. removing God who is at the centre of everything and replacing Him with secular ideology.

Archbishop George is asking parishioners to urgently contact their Assembly Members and demand that the State does not usurp parents’ rights to decide how to teach these sensitive topics to their children. To contact your AMs please visit the Catholic Education Service website – www.catholiceducation.org.uk.

Fr Matthew

Into your hands…

Five years ago I wrote this front page piece for November and the Holy Souls. It contains one of my favourite prayers, so I make no apology for reprinting it this year…
After the Second Vatican Council, the various liturgical books were renewed and translated. The Missal for Mass, the words for the seven Sacraments – it was a long process. One of the very last texts to be renewed (appropriately) was the Rite of Christian Funerals. I’m not sure if lessons had been learned in the previous years, but many agree that it is one of the best post-Council rites.
Not only are there different prayers for every situation imaginable, but the quality of the translation was somewhat better than some previous efforts. The language is modern yet dignified, suitable for public speaking and not contorted.
One of my favourite liturgical prayers is the Prayer of Commendation at the end of a funeral. It is a key moment as we prepare to leave the church, the emotions of the bereaved are often strained by this point in the Mass, and something profound yet accessible is called for. And it certainly works – you can usually hear a pin drop as the much-loved person is handed back to the God who gave them to us…
It is a prayer for November:


Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother/sister N,
in the sure and certain hope
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he/she will rise with him on the last day.
We give you thanks for the blessings which you bestowed upon N. in this life:
they are signs to us of your goodness and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.
Merciful Lord, turn toward us and listen to our prayers:
open the gates of paradise to your servant
and help us who remain
to comfort one another with assurances of faith,
until we all meet in Christ
and are with you and with our brother/sister for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Matthew