Out Now!

Thursday, 13 February 2020

I hope my bones are better behaved

Founded in the C9th but largely C13th.

Nave and Altar

One of the few churches with its own landing stage!

St Dubricius Church and graveyard had a wonderful atmosphere that photographs can only hint at. Even so, this post is largely one of photographs to give that kind of hint. 

For those who, probably rightly, think a post of photographs is a kind of cheat, I’ve also included a brief history of the man himself. Its source is Celtic* where a good story necessarily trumps truth, but then again it happened so long ago . . . 

A snowdrop drift.

A C6th king of Ergyng* called Pebiau had an incurable disease which involved a steady froth of the mouth which necessitated two servants to wipe it away. On returning home from a series of battles, he discovered his beloved daughter pregnant, and because she was his beloved daughter ordered her to be drowned with the as yet unborn infant. This she survived, and so he ordered her to be burned alive. The following day he sent his guards to check she was finally dead, but instead of a charred crisp, they discovered her nursing her newborn baby. On seeing this Pebiau came to his senses and embraced both mother and child. The baby wiped his hand over Pebiau’s frothing mouth and he was immediately cured.

Thus began the career of St. Dubricius who went on to change water into wine, drive a ferocious demon from an otherwise placid young woman, and found an oratory and place of learning on the banks of the Wye. The site of his oratory was chosen for him via the voice of an angel. It directed him to build where he found a white sow nursing her piglets. Predictably he stumbled upon said white sow and piglets and there built his oratory.

The base of a 300 year old Tulip Tree. I so wanted to believe that the meshing was to keep tree goblins in their place. The reality was that mournful parishioners were scattering ashes into the hole, which presumably was not good for the tree. 

The entire area became a centre of learning and piety but all things come to an end, even St Dubricius. Worn down by infirmity, he resigned as Bishop and retired to the holy island of Bardsey where he died in 612 AD.

By 1120 his reputation was such his bones were dug up and reburied at  Llandaff with much pomp and ceremony. But even in death, St Dubricius continued to surprise. Before reinterring the much-travelled bones, they were ritually washed before witnesses in  Llandaff Church. To everyone’s surprise the water bubbled furiously and became piping hot, the event lasting more than an hour. I hope my bones are better behaved when I die.

And for those who believe in Ents

* S. Herefordshire/Monmouthshire
*The Liber landavensis. ed. by the Rev. W. J. Rees. The Welsh MSS. Society. Llandovery, W. Rees, 1840.


Maria Zannini said...

I suspect St. Dubricius didn't want to be moved. I'm surprised they went ahead with the move after that show.

Mike Keyton said...

I think you might be right, Maria 😀

DRC said...

I'd be more disappointed that his bones decided boiled the water instead of turning it to wine. Jeez...talk about being inconsiderate to your fellow followers :)

Mike Keyton said...

Hmm, not too sure I'd want to taste wine derived from a corpse . . . then again