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Gerallt Cymro

Gerald of Wales

Having rested that night at Llanbadarn Fawr, we attracted many persons to the service of Christ on the following morning. It is remarkable that this church, like many others in Wales and Ireland, has a lay abbot; for a bad custom prevails among the clergy, of appointing the most powerful people of parish stewards, or rather patrons, of their churches; these, in time, usurp the whole right, appropriating to their own use the possession of all the lands, leaving to the clergy only the altars with their tenths and oblations, and assigning even these to their sons and relations in the church. Such defenders, or rather destroyers, of the church call themselves abbots, and presume to attribute to themselves a title, as well as estates, to which they have no just claim. In this state we found the church at Llanbadarn Fawr, without a head. A certain old man, waxen old in iniquity (whose name was Eden Oen ap Gwaithwoed) was abbot, and his sons officiated at the altar. But in the reign of king Henry I, when the authority of the English prevailed in Wales, the monastery of St Peter at Gloucester held quiet possession of this church; but after his death, the English being driven out, the monks were expelled from their cloisters, and their places supplied by the same violent intrusion of clergy and laity, which had formerly been practised. It happened that in the reign of king Stephen, who succeeded Henry I, a knight, born in Armorican Britain, having travelled through many parts of the world, from a desire of seeing different cities, and the manners of their inhabitants, came by chance to Llanbadarn Fawr. On a certain feast day, whilst both the clergy and people were waiting for the arrival of the abbot to celebrate mass, he perceived a body of young men, armed, according to the custom of their country, approaching towards the church; and on enquiring which of them was the abbot, they pointed out to him a man walking foremost, with a long spear in his hand. Gazing on him with amazement, he asked whether the abbot had no other habit, or a different staff, from that which he now carried. On their answering, "No!" he replied, "I have seen and heard a wonderful novelty indeed today!" and from that hour he returned home, and finished his labours and researches. This wicked people boasts, that a certain bishop of their church (for it formerly was a cathedral) was murdered by their predecessors; and chiefly on this account they ground their claims of right and possession. No public complaint having been made against their conduct, we have thought it more prudent to pass over, for the present, the enormities of this wicked race with dissimulation, than exasperate them by a further relation.

Approaching the river Dyfi, which divides north and south Wales, the bishop of St Davids and Rhys ap Gruffydd, who, with a liberality peculiarly praiseworthy in so illustrious a prince had accompanied us from the castle of Aberteifi, throughout all Ceredigion, to this place, returned home. Having crossed the river in a boat, and quit the diocese of St Davids, we entered the land of the sons of Conan, or Meirionydd, the first province of Gwynedd on that side of the country, and belonging to the bishopric of Bangor. We slept that night at Tywyn.


Giraldus Cambrensis Itinerary Through Wales 1188 (tr. ???)

Er nid oes sn uniongyrchol am Llangynfelyn yn y darn uchod, y mae'n debyg y daeth Gerallt drwy'r plwyf i gyrraedd Afon Dyfi.

Although there is no direct mention in the above extract of Llangynfelyn, it's likely that Gerald came through the parish to reach Aberdyfi.



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