Caldey Island's Living Saints

Five hundred years after Christ Christian monks settled on Caldey Island, off Wales' Pembrokeshire coast. The first abbot got drunk and fell fatally down a well. Bishop Dubricius, who spent each Lent there, appointed Samson as the second abbot. He established transforming disciplines of prayer, scripture, service and healing. Saints Illtyd, Gildas, Paul of Leon and perhaps Malo and David spent time there. These facts alone were enough to lure our 2011 Aidan and Hilda pilgrimage, brilliantly led by Martin Warren, there. We touched the Caldey Ogham Stone,which may date from the 6th. century, whose inscription Sir Johyn Rhys deciphered as 'the tonsured servant of Dubricius.' We prayed in St. David's Churh, the site of which may also date back to the 6th. century.

There was a second reason for risking the uncertain daily boat crossing to Caldey. The entire island is owned by Cistercian monks. Except for the high enclosed monastery we had free access to the churches, shops,beaches and nature trails. And to Brother Gildas, the rotund and long-bearded brother who revels in the Celtic hermit tradition. And to guestmaster Brother Titus, a former racing driver who daily swims and lifts weights in the sea. And to another brother who trips round the island in shorts with a skipping rope or a mountain bike. A few of us (but not me) joined them for their 3.30 am prayer; most joined thm at other times. But we had our own prayers and talks, including the topics of the Welsh dragon and fighting with dragons. Up on the Calvary that overlooks Wales we prayed for each part of that land - and for a new uprising of its saints.

Posted at 10:37am on 24th September 2011
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