The weekend of St David’s Day reminds us that we are part of a local church. Our diocese is Cardiff, but we can also talk about the local church of our country, Wales. Our history is long, going back beyond St David, and full of interesting people. I was searching on the internet the phrase “meditation for St David” and came across a curiosity. I found a piece on Wales in “The Tablet” of 28th February 1946 written by a Fr Illtud Evans, a Welsh-speaking Dominican friar. It’s quite long, but the opening paragraph made me smile. I’ve adapted the quote he uses into more modern English….
He writes : “If a Tudor jest book is to be believed, Welsh rarebit has a remarkable history. ‘Saint Peter received complaints that there was in Heaven a great company of Welshmen, who, with their croaking and babbling troubled all the others. He decided that they must leave. So Saint Peter went out through Heaven’s gates and cried with a loud voice : “Caws pob!” that is to say, “Toasted cheese!”, whereupon the Welshmen, hearing this, ran out of Heaven at a great pace. And when Saint Peter saw them all out, he suddenly went back into Heaven and locked the door, and so shut all the Welshmen out.’”
You can find the rest of the meditation, which is rather more serious, in the Tablet archives. It’s a reflection on how the Church was doing just after the Second World War. I enjoyed the tale, and wondered who this Fr. Illtud Evans was. John Evans was a convert, born in London in 1913, but educated in Wales and he learned Welsh. After reception into the Catholic Church he joined the Dominican order in 1937, taking the name Illtud, and was ordained in 1943. He did a lot of preaching on the radio as well as on parish missions. He combined this with his writing, contributing regularly to periodicals such as the Tablet and the Times Literary Supplement. He became editor of “Blackfriars”, the Dominican magazine, and Prior of the London community. Asked to work in the USA, he was in great demand for diocesan and religious retreats there too, and edited another magazine. Health problems caused him to return to Britain in 1970, and he died in 1972.
So, just a reminder that in Wales too, we can all play our part in the ongoing life of the Church. And I hope there is still some Welsh rarebit left in heaven– or Welsh rabbit, which seems to be the original name…