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  Return to Shrines of British Saints.

The history and description of the shrines of Sainted and Martyred British Prelates and Priests,
Chapter Four, part one of J. Charles Wall's, Shrines of British Saints Due to the length of this chapter,
I have broken it into four parts.  This page is section one.

Download Chapter Four as PDF.  Chapter Four (555 KB)

Jump directly to:

Assorted Saints
St. Moedoc
St. Manchán
St. Piran
St. Ninian
St. Justin
Sts. David and Caradoc
Sts. Dubricius and Teilo

For even more information about abbeys, monks and religious Orders, see my abbey bookmark pages. 

See the glossary (coming soon) for help with some of the terms used in these chapters.

Wall, J. Charles, Shrines of British Saints, Methuen & Co., London. 1905.  Chapter Four.



[part one]




The shrine of one priest—St. Amphibalus—has already received attention with that of his pupil and convert St. Alban, the first martyr of Britain.  As the first ecclesiastic to receive the crown of martyrdom and the first cleric to be enshrined he, together with St. Alban, took precedence in these pages.

Of those prelates who were martyred since the early ages of the Church, England has yielded the most noteworthy of all Christendom.  The death of Thomas à Becket thrilled Europe to an extent unsurpassed by anything except the preaching of the Crusades, and the events consequent on those expeditions, since the day on which the Holy Cross was discovered by St. Helen.  Appalled by such an act, rejoicing at the moral Triumph of the Church in her representative, and envious that England possessed that champion, each National Church coveted a similar honour.  His name was more widely inserted in the churches’ calendars than any medieval saint, his festival more generally observed, and his translation more fully attended.

Of clerics who were not elected to be martyrs England again has produced one of the most revered of names, and in St. Bede all Christendom recognises one of the venerable Doctors of the Church.


Thus raised above her fellows, how has England preserved her heritage?

The missionary labours of the early Celtic Church of the British Isles may be said to be unknown—certainly the extent of them is far from fully grasped even by the student of hagiology.  When it is found that many shrines of the Celtic and Saxon prelates and clergy yet stand on the altars of the churches of obscure continental villages, to which their mission had carried them, venerated and known to the sparse population of those localities while forgotten by the descendants of their own countrymen, it may help this generation to realise the fervour of religion which inspired our simple forefathers.  St. Bernard compared the missionary inundation of foreign countries by the Irish to a flood.1

St. Gobhan’s relics are preserved in a shrine over the high altar of the church in a village called by his name—St. Gobain, near Laon ; and the body of St. Etto (known in France as St. Zé) in his Episcopal vestures lies enshrined at Dompierre.

Sts. Caidoc and Fricor (otherwise Adrian) were buried at Centule, now called St. Riquier, in Picardy.  In 799 St. Angilbert restored their tombs, which he found in a half-ruined condition, and decorated them with an epitaph to each saint in letters of gold.  Three hundred years after this they were more greatly honoured by St. Gervinus, who, in 1070, translated them to a shrine of silver and precious stones above the high altar of the same church, and in the same shrine laid the relics of St. Manguille.

St. Fursey, who, coming from Ireland, had spread the gospel through Suffolk, and founded the monastery of Burghcastle, passed over to minister to the spiritual wants of the French.  Six miles north of Paris, at a place called Lagny, he built a monastery, and shortly after died at


Mézerolles.  Then ensued a contention for the body of the holy man.  Erconwald, a noble who had been greatly influenced by the teaching of St. Fursey, sent an escort of soldiers to bring the body for interment to a church he was building at Péronne, in Picardy ; but Haymon and the town of Mézerolles were loth to part with such a treasure.  Legend says it was to be decided by yoking two untamed bulls to a car containing the coffin (a mode of decision said to have been at one time popular in England as well as abroad).2  The bulls went to Péronne, but Bercharius, Count of Laon, came with superior numbers to seize the body, and it was eventually decided that it should depend upon the acts of two boys.  The children raised the bier and carried it to Mont Des Cignes, near Péronne. 3  They were met in front of the unfinished church by Erconwald, who relieved them of their precious burden.

The coffin was placed beneath a canopy of beautiful tapestry, within the porch, until the church was ready to receive it, and a watch was set to frustrate any attempts to carry it off.  In twenty-seven days a place was prepared, and the coffin was buried near the altar.

Four years later—654—the relics were translated to a shrine made for them by St. Eloi, the great goldsmith of the Merovingian period, in a chapel to the east of the altar.

Another translation occurred in 1056, and in the new shrine then erected they remained until the Revolution, when the church was destroyed.  The head reliquary was, however, saved, to suffer more grievously in the bombardment of Péronne by the Prussians in 1870, yet to escape destruction more marvellously.  The face was recovered from the midst of the ashes of the church, enclosed in an envelope of crystal from the reliquary, which had been


melted by the action of the fire, and its molten state had taken the impression of the face. 4 

The skull, still preserved in a head shine, is thus inscribed :—

Sacræ Reliqulæ Sanct. Fursaei Urbiæ

Peronensis Patron.

At Luxeuil were numerous arm shines and reliquaries of Sts. Columban, Eustace, Walbert, and others, until destroyed during the French Revolution.

The principal shine of St. Columban stands as an altar in the crypt of the old Lombardic church dedicated to him at Bobio. It is a white marble sarcophagus, which was formerly surmounted by a statue of the saint.  The front and sides are decorated with reliefs illustrating events in his life, and it is interesting to notice how in one of these the Polaire, Cumdach, or book satchel, carried by St. Columban, is represented.

The relics of another British saint—St. Judoc—were brought from the scene of his ministrations in Lower Picardy back to England.  The Danes were threatening the village ; and the natives, who had heard of the prowess of Alfred the Great, thought the body of the saint could find a safe asylum in England.  They arrived at Winchester with their sacred burden almost on the eve of the dedication of the New Minster in Winchester.  The canons gladly welcomed them and honoured St. Judoc with a glorious shine in their church, which was made yet more beautiful when it was re-erected in Hyde Abbey.

In a church just outside the village of Gheel, near Malines in Belguin, is enshrined the body of St. Dymphna, the daughter of an Irish king of the seventh century ; and an Irish reliquary, supposed to be that of St. Fridolin, is


preserved in the treasury of the cathedral at Coire, in the canton of the Grisons.

In the crypt of the ruined old cathedral at Fulda, Germany, is the shine of the apostle St. Boniface ; and in the sacristy are preserved his crosier of ivory, and the dagger with which he was martyred by the Frisians, in 754  But even England still possesses a minor shine of the saint, which was discovered some years since in the ancient church of Brixworthy, in Northamptonshire, in the south wall of the south aisle.

It is a stone reliquary of the fourteenth century, about 15 inches in height and 7 ½ inches in width.  At the angles are small shafts with bases and capitals ; three of the four sides are trefoil-headed panels with crocketed canopies.  At each of the angles the mortice holes show that pinnacles originally decorated them. The top covers a cavity 4 inches in diameter and about the same depth, containing a bone of this English missionary.

[Illustration:  Reliquary of St. Boniface.]

St. Willibrord of Northumbria was buried in 739 in his monastery at Epternacht, near Luxemburg, and there his shine is exalted, to which the curious leaping pilgrimage is made ever Whit-Tuesday.

St. Willibald has been revered in Aichstadt since the eighth century, and when Bishop Hildebrand built the new church in his honour, his relics were translated with great rejoicings ; but a portion of his relics are enshrined at Furnes, in Flanders.  St. Richard, king of the West Saxons, died at Lucca, and his relics are still venerated in the church of St. Fridian in that city.

Two of the ancient Irish feretories are yet extant, mutilated but beautiful, and in connection with one of them we are fortunate in having still preserved—but one solitary


example—the case or satchel in which the shine was kept.  It was the general custom for the Irish to carry their smaller shines and books in satchels (called Menister for the former, and Polaire or Tiaga for the latter), a custom yet observed in some parts of the Eastern Church.

Three satchels only are known to exist in the British Isles : one for the shrine of St. Moedoc, one for the Book of Armagh, and one for a missal now at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.  With the first only are we now concerned as being connected with the shrine of St. Moedoc.



The Breac Moedoc, or shrine of St. Moedoc, is probably the ninth or tenth century, and is mentioned in an Irish MS. Life of St. Molaise of the thirteenth century, now preserved in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. 

It has been suggested that the name of this shrine was originally the Bracc Moedoc, which prefix was an ancient Irish word for hand, this meaning that is was the shrine of St. Moedoc’s hand.  A thirteenth-century legend states that it was brought from Rome by St. Molaise, and by him given to St. Moedoc ; but this is absolutely contradicted by the workmanship of the shrine.

Whether it contained a hand or any other relics of the saint in no way affects the fact of its being the shrine of St. Moedoc, the founder of the monastery at Ferns in the sixth century.

The shrine of St. Moedoc had been preserved for many centuries in the church of St. Moedoc at Drumland, where it was in the custody of the Roman Catholic parish priest.  The shrine was sometimes lent for swearing upon at trials, and so great was the reverence felt for it that an oath made upon it was most sacredly kept.  About 1846 it


Shrine of St. Moedoc 

[Illustration:  Plate 19  Shrine of St. Moedoc.]
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was lent to a man named Magauran from the parish of Templeport, who deposited the usual pledge of one guinea for its safe restoration.  Tempted, however, but the offer of a Dublin jeweller, he sold it to him instead of restoring it to the priest.  Dr. Petrie bought it of this jeweller, and it is now in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.

The Breac Moedoc is one of the usual form of this kind of reliquary, a rectangular casket with a gable roof.  The length is 8 7/8 inches, the breadth is 3 ½ inches, and the height

 shrine of Moedoc

[Illustration: Shrine of St. Moedoc]
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7 ¼ inches.  The body of the châsse is of pale bronze covered with gilt plates.  In the front were originally twenty-one figures in relief, only eleven of which remain, and the feet of three others.   These figures are made in groups of three, and each group is differently treated in detail from the others.  The first group at the base is surrounded by intertwined ribbons, and in the second group the figures are divided by the conventional birds so frequently seen in Scoto-Celic art.  The figures hold books, swords, and other symbols.  In the next row


stand three female saints in a diapered arcade, all of whom have their hair dressed in one fashion.

The ornaments have been torn from the ends, except one figure of bronze gilt, representing David seated and playing on a harp, while a dove hovers close by.  This fragment also retains a small portion of Celtic scrollwork.

 Cumbach Breac Mordoc

[Illustration: Cumdach of the Breac Mordoc.]
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The back and bottom of the shrine are decorated with a parallelogram of small crosses pierced through a plate of bronze.  A fragment of the border of the base remains, and has a ground of red enamel ; the margins, knots, and squares are of gilded bronze, the pattern within the squares being formed of blue glass and red and white enamel.

The invaluable case, or satchel, in which the shine was carried through the province of the clan, or the district of the patron saint, is provided with a broad leathern


 Shrine of St. Moedoc

[Illustration: Plate 20  Shrine of St. Moedoc.]
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strap by means of which it was suspended round the neck.  The satchel is of leather, and the whole of the ornament of interwoven bands with a central line, and of circles with a beaded decoration, is obtained, not by stamping, but by very shallow carving of the leather.

This one example, combined with written records, enables the imagination to grasp the progress of a Celtic bishop.  St. Patrick is described as being followed by the boy Benen with his satchel on his back, and among the presents given by that saint to St. Fiacc was a cumdach containing among other things, a reliquary.



The other Irish example is the shine of St. Manchán, of Manghan, which still contains the supposed relics of a saint of that name—but of which particular Stain Manchán is doubtful.  Whether, in fact, it was the actual name of a saint, or whether it is a diminutive of Manach, Monachus, a monk, is difficult to decide.  Many were the holy monks of the seventh century in Ireland, and a “Saint Manchán” is commemorated on various days in different martyrologies.

The saint whose relics are preserved in the shrine now to be described was probably the Abbot of Leith, in King’s County, whose death, Colgan records, occurred in 664.5  In the Annals of the Four Masters, under the year 1166, it is chronicled that “the shrine of Manchán, of Mæthail, was covered by Ruaidhri Ua Conehobhair (Rory O’Connor, King of Ireland), and an embroidering of gold was carried over it by him in as good a style as a relic was ever covered in Ireland.”

This description closely agrees with both the age and the art of the reliquary now preserved on the altar of a


chapel at Boher, in the parish of Lemanaghan, in which district stand the ruins of Leith Abbey where St. Manchán presided over his community, and after whom the parish is named.

Saved from iconoclastic zealots the shine was long kept in a small thatched building, used as a chapel until it was destroyed by fire, when local tradition asserts that the reliquary was miraculously preserved, it alone being saved unhurt while all else was consumed.  It was then placed in the custody of the ancient family of Moony of

 Shrine of St. Manchan

[Illustration: Shine of St. Manchán.]
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the Doon, to whose residence the peasantry resorted to take oath on the shine ; but through the inconvenience thus caused it was translated to the church, and remains in the care of the parish priest.

The shine, or feretory, has a rectangular base 23 inches long by 12 inches wide, from which the sides rise without a break to a gable 19 inches high.  It is supported by four feet 2 inches in height, which follow the rake of the


sides.  The two ends are thus of triangle form.  The framework is made of yew, which is yet quite sound.

The base of the shrine is surrounded by a border of bronze 1¼ inches wide, ornamented by a tau pattern of Champlevé enamel, between which is engraved a chevron design.  The sides have borders of bronze 1½ inches wide, the edges of which are hammered up into cable mouldings, and the flat central bands are filled with a continuous pattern of intricate animal interlacings, pierced through the metal and exposing the timber beneath.  On both of the sides is a large cross 18 inches in width and 17 inches in height ;  at each extremity and in the centre is a large raise boss, 4½ inches in diameter and 1½ inches in relief, all enriched with interlaced lacertine ornament, except the two central, which were probably enameled.  The arms of the crosses are each composed of four enameled plates ; the ground of the enamels is yellow with a border of red lines.  Above and below the crosses were originally about fifty-two figures, sixteen below and ten or twelve above the cross on each side ; the figures are in high relief and were heavily gilt, but being fastened to the background by nails of bronze, many of them have fallen away, only ten remaining, all of which, by their vestures, are apparently laymen, mostly warriors.  They are habited in close-fitting tunics with an outer covering with sleeves ; a girdle encircles the hips, and from it falls a richly embroidered philibeg, or kilt.  The legs and feet are bare.  The hair and beard are variously trimmed, and one figure appears to have a steel cap.  Four of the figures bear distinctive emblems—on carries an axe, another a book, and two others have short swords.

Two other figures of the same elongated form have been found in the neighbourhood, which from their size and style probably belonged to the shrine of St. Manchán.  One of them, with a richly chased conical helmet covering


the head and neck, is evidently a chieftain.  the other is unmistakably in sacerdotal vestments ; the head is covered by a cap, or primitive mitre, and over a short alb is a chasuble of the same length ; in his hands he grasps a short cambutta, or pastoral staff, and his feet are covered with buskins.

The ends of the shrine are surrounded by borders similar to the sides, but the panels within them are sunk about half an inch and are each covered by a plate of bronze, the entire surface of which  is enriched by beautiful interlaced work, divided into two compartments by an elongated monster, which is riveted down to the plate.

The crest of the shrine is lost, and with it probably the names of the donor and artificer, which in Irish work so frequently found a place on the joint production of their combined riches and skill.

Above the feet of panelled bronze are heavy clamps of the same metal, fastened to each corner and ornamented by heads of grotesque monsters ; these clamps hold rings—3 ½ inches in diameter—through which staves were inserted when the feretory was carried in procession.

The whole of the metal-work was richly gilt, and although but little remains—partly through age, and largely through the pious energy of a former priest’s servant, who, in her enthusiastic veneration for St. Manchán, so vigorously scoured the shrine to the detriment of its beauty—there is enough to realize how it must indeed have appeared to have “an embroidery of gold carried over it,” and to deserve the description by the compilers of the martyrology of Donegal, even as late as the early part of the seventeenth century, “a shrine…beautifully covered with boards on the inside and with bronze outside them, and very beautifully carved.”

When the shrine was somewhat recently opened it was found to contain certain bones and the greater portion of


a skull, some pieces of yew and thin pieces of silver ; the latter were evidently fragments of the plating of the sides of the shrine which had fallen away when the figures had become detached, and thus ceased to hold them in position.



Following in the footsteps of those Irish saints who crossed to Britain, we find it was left for the present age to violate and destroy the simple shrine of St. Piran, which was for centuries preserved beneath a protecting pall of sand.  Without even the excuse of sixteenth-century fanatics did the enlightened nineteenth century desecrate the relics of one of the apostles of England : not from religious motives—these have been conspicuously absent—but for the fleeting desire of possessing curios, without even the condoning wish to preserve them, was the painful sacrilege committed. As a place of picnic, to eat a sandwich while seated on the stone which bore the bones of the saint, to kick the fragments yet smaller, and to make a cockshy of the sacred remains, has been the sole ambition of many latter-day pilgrims 6 ; reverting to a state more pagan than those of whom St. Piran came with the glad message of a Saviour.

St. Piran left Ireland for Cornwall with his mother and St. Ives to bring to the people of that small kingdom the gift he had himself received.  On the north coast of Cornwall he built an oratory ; there he taught, and there he died on March 5th, about 480.

The altar of that first oratory became his shrine, for he was buried beneath the altar stone, and when in the tenth century the shifting sands overwhelmed the church, the worshippers built another about a mile distant and carried the head of their saint to be enshrined in the new sanctuary.


The second church was rebuilt in a larger and more perfect manner at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and in 1433 the will of Sir John Arundel, of Trerice, contained the following bequest :—

“Item, lego ad usum parochie S’c’i Pyerani in Zabulo ad claudendum capud S. Pierani honorifice et meliori modo quo sciunt xl.s.”
(I bequeath for the use of the parish at St. Piran in Zabula xl. shillings—or about £32—towards enclosing the head of St Piran with due honour, and in a better manner than heretofore.)

The Register at Exeter alludes to this spot as the resort of hundreds of pilgrims to the shrine of St. Piran. 

At the period of the Reformation, when shrines were confiscated, there is reason to surmise—as will be seen hereafter—that the sacred relic of St. Piran’s head was first reverently buried with his other bones in the forsaken primitive oratory.

Camden, who lived after this period, records :—

“I sabulo postium S. Pirano sacellum ; qui sanctus, etiam Hibernicus, hic requiescit.”
(In the sand a sanctuary was built for St. Piran, which saint, although an Irishman, rests here.)

The sands continually drifted, and in their irresistible course again exposed the gable of the first buried oratory.  With an immense amount of labour that primitive church was dug out of its sandy robe, and in September, 1835, the shrine of St. Piran was again exposed to view.

The altar of the orator was found to be placed in the position of a tomb, the length extending east and west, the east end abutting against the eastern wall.  Beneath the altar slab were three headless skeletons, one was of a woman, probably the mother of the saint, who had accompanied her son in his self-imposed exile for the extension


of the faith.  Lying between the leg bones of one of the skeletons were the three heads.  These heads, it is supposed, has been again deposited in the original tomb for safety, in the sixteenth century, where it was known the other relics of St. Piran were buried.

Shame be to us that since this excavation the relics have been desiccated and lost, and the oratory nearly destroyed.  The site has been surrounded in quite recent days by a protection rail.

For the relics and shrines of British saints we have already found it necessary to look abroad.  The Revolution in France was as destructive as the Reformation and the Great Rebellion in England ; yet the relics of our saints have received more care in that country than in  their native land.  Foreigners imagine England to be “very religious,” ; but surely religion demands reverent treatment of the mortal remains of the temples of the Holy Spirit, whether of those commemorated in the Calendar or for those forgotten to the world.



In the early part of the fifth century the body of St. Ninian was laid to rest in his church at Whitherne (County Wigtown, Scotland).  It was called “Candida Casa,” for he had built it of white stone, so different from any other building known to the natives, where it was customary to build with wattles and mud, and this wonderful oratory, the White House, became the first shrine of the apostle of the Picts.

In the church of later date the shrine of St. Ninian became a renowned resort of pilgrims ; kings and princes knelt by his relics, and many a devotee came from abroad to venerate so great a saint.

In 1425 King James I of Scotland granted full


protection to all pilgrims visiting this Scottish shrine, and in 1473, Margaret, queen of James III, attended by a retinue of ladies, made a pilgrimage.  James IV paid many visits and gave large offerings, and his son James grasped the palmer’s staff and humbly bent his knee by the shrine, the sanctity of which continued to attract pilgrims for a considerable time after the Reformation.

In the remaining chancel of the old priory church stands a tomb beneath an arch of the presbytery, on the north of the high altar, which is suppose to be the shrine of St. Ninian, and as such it has recently been restored.  The conjecture is doubtless correct, for, as with other early British saints, the body of the saint appears never to have been disturbed for translation into a movable feretory.

An effigy which lies in the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral is called the shrine of St. Kentigern, but there appears to be no foundation for the assumption that it is in any way connected with that prelate.  The cathedral was rich in shines and reliquaries before the Protestant Purge, but now we look in vain throughout Scotland for any such remains.



Another remnant of the shrine of a British saint is to be seen in the church of St. Justin, at Llaniestyn, in the Isle of Anglesey. 

St. Justin was born in Brittany in the sixth century, but came to labour among his country men in Wales, where he died, and was buried by St. David.

The ancient church of Llaniestyn has gone, but in the modern building the effigy over the saint’s tomb is still carefully preserved.       

The monument of St. Justin is probably of the fourteenth century ; of the earlier shrine which enclosed the


relics of the saint for eight previous centuries we have no knowledge.

Effigy, St. Justin           

[Illustration: Effigy of St. Justin.]
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The recumbent effigy of the saint is vested in a close-fitting cap, evidently the hood of the habit with is seen beneath a cope.  In his right hand he holds a staff with a dog’s head as a finial, and an open scroll in the left.  On the scroll and above the head is a mutilated inscription, which, as far as can be deciphered, is : “Hic jacet Sanctus Yestinus, cui Gwenllian, Filia Madoc et Gryffyt ap Gwilym, optulit in oblacoem istam imaginem p. salute animarium.”



In a secluded valley of the Alan, hidden away from the rushing world, still far remote from railway and locomotive, reposes the town of St. Davids.  The whole place is known by the name of its sainted founder, the patron saint of Wales.  His shrine, in part, is yet preserved, and probably


his relics, though moved from the structural throne, where for many centuries they were elevated for the veneration of the faithful.

 Shrine of St. David

[Illustration: Shrine of St. David.]
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To that remote recess in Wales went the Norman William, forgetful for the moment of the conqueror in the more humble capacity of the pilgrim.  A century later another royal conqueror, in the midst of his progress, assumed the guise of a pilgrim, and Henry II, on his way


St. David's Shrine 

[Illustration: Plate XXI  St. David’s Shrine.]
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to Ireland, besought victory at the shrine of St. David, offering two velvet copes, and on his return he again knelt by the relics and presented for a thankoffering a handful of silver.

The appearance of the shrine at this period cannot be determined, but that is was portable is evident, for in 1086 it was stolen and despoiled.7  Bishop Richard de Carew, in 1275, constructed a new feretory for the relics, and, from the offerings, was able to forward the rebuilding of the cathedral.

The structural part of St. David’s shrine is mainly of this date (1275), though showing various alterations at later periods.

It occupies the third bay from the east on the north side of the presbytery, and extends from pier to pier.  On a moulded base is a seat for the pilgrims supported on three low pointed arches, each arch forming a recess about a foot in height and the same in depth ; the spandrels are relieved by deep quatrefoils, the two in the middle are pierced through the stone, and communicate with aumbries at the back.  These opening are large enough to admit a hand, and were probably for passing offerings of money ; even at the present time occasional pilgrims drop coins into the cavities.  Above the seat rises a blind arcade of three arches surmounted by crocketed hand-mouldings terminating in head corbels.  The two heads which remain represent a priest and a youth with a coronet, and were recently removed from the back,  Within the arches of the walls were painting of St. David in full pontificals in the centre, St. Patrick on his right, and St. Denis on his left ; these were extant in the time of Elizabeth.8

The back of the shrine, projecting slightly into the aisle, is very plain.  In this lower part are three round-


headed aumbries, and above them two others between three quatrefoils.

Upon the uppermost slab rested the feretory—that which we have seen was stolen in 1086, carried out of the town, and totally stripped of its valuable casing.  No further mention of it is known until 1326, when we find that the townspeople were required in time of war to

Shrine St. Caradoc 

[Illustration: Shrine of St. Caradoc.]
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follow the bishop with the feretory for one day’s journey in either direction9 ; and a statute of Bishop Nicholls (1418-1433) enjoins the chantry priests to carry the relics in procession when so directed by the precentor.10   Three officers were appointed by Bishop Beck to take charge of the offerings. 

The importance of this shrine and the great reverence


in which the relics of St. David were held may be gathered from a papal decree, that two pilgrimages to St. Davids were equal to one to Rome, whence arose the saying, “Roma semel quantum, dat bis Menevia tantum.”

Beneath the same roof, at the back of the choir stalls and open to the north transept, is the shrine of St. Caradoc ; there, by his own express wish, he was buried in 1124.

On a stone step for the accommodation of kneeling pilgrims, and canopied by a round arch, is the lowly shrine.  Between a stone shelf and a shallow base the ground of the shrine is relieved by two pointed arches, and between them are peeved two quatrefoil chamfered innards, which may possibly have been for receiving the coins offered by pilgrims.



The tombs, or shrines, of two seventh-century saints—the founder of the see of Llandaff and his successor, Sts. Dubricius and Teilo—are still standing in that cathedral.

St. Dubricius died and was buried in the Isle of Bardsey, but his body was translated to Llandaff in 1120 by Bishop Urban in the presence of David, Bishop of Bangor, and of Griffith, king of North Wales.

Arrived at Llandaff, it was through advisable that their relics should be washed after so long a journey, for which purpose three basins were placed before the altar of St. Peter and the three locals saints ; but when they began the ablutions “by the touch of the holy relics the water bubbled as if a red-hot stone had been thrown into it.”11 The body of St. Dubricius was then put “in tumbam ad hoc aptam,” and placed “in antique monasterio, ante Sanctæ Mariæ altare versus aquilonalem plagam” (in a tomb fitted for the purpose…in the ancient monastery, before St. Mary’s altar on the north side).


The tomb (upon which oaths were taken as late as the seventeenth century) is in the recess beneath a Norman window, and on it lies the effigy of a bishop in Mass vestments and wearing a mitre.  This effigy is of early Decorated workmanship and was possibly placed there in honour of the saint when the presbytery was remodelled.  The decoration of the arched recess and canopy is quite modern.

In 1850 the tomb was opened and the following inscription found in it :—

                                                                                                            “September the 8th, 1736.
“On the south side of this chansell nare the door is a Tumbe whin (within) a neach (niche) now wall’d up it is supposed to be Sant Blawe (Teilo) tumbe when i opened the Tumbe the Parson buried apar’d to be a Bishop by his Pastoral Staffe and Crotcher.  The Stafe when we came to Tuch it it droped to peacis but the Crocher being Puter (pewter)But almost perished But would hold together.  Betwithin the Stafe there was a large cup by his side but almost perished  The most of Puter he was rapt in Leather and the upper part was very sound.

 “John Wood
              Architect of Queen Sqr. Bath.
Thomas Omar
             Joyner and Carpenter of Queen Sqr.”


1. Vita S. Mal. c. 6.
2. Cf. p. 31.
3. Colg. Vita S. Fursaei, ii.
4. The Conversion of Heptarchy, by the Right Rev. G. F. Browne.
5.  Fasti Hib. i. 150, 333.
6. Scenes which the author has witnessed.
7. Anglia Sacra, vol. ii. p. 649.
8. Browne Willis, 69.
9. Mens. Sac., i. 255-7.
10. Lib. Stat., 299.
11. Liber Landavensis.

-end chapter four, part one-


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