29 Mar Saint Gundleus, Confessor
Today is the feast day of Saint Gundleus. Ora pro nobis.
Troparion of St Gladys and St Gwynllyn
Rejoice, thrice-blessed Gladys,
daughter of King Brychan,
wife of holy Gwynllyn and mother of Saint Cadoc.
O worthy Gwynllyn,
thou didst forsake thy pagan warfare to fight as a Christian ascetic
and didst end thy days as a hermit.
We praise you, Gladys and Gwynllyn. (3)
Saint Gundleus lived about 466-523. He is also known as Gwynllyw the Bearded (or possibly the Warrior), Woolo, Woollos. He was King Glywys Cernyw’s eldest son and he inherited the main eastern portion of the Kingdom, bordering Gwent. (1)
Saint Gundleus, who was formerly honoured with great devotion in Wales, was son to the king of the Dimetians in South-Wales. After the death of his father, though the eldest son, he divided the kingdom with his six brothers, who nevertheless respected and obeyed him as if he had been their sovereign.
According to legend, he desired to marry Gwladys, daughter of Saint Brychan of Brecknock (f.d. April 6). When Brychan refused his daughter’s hand, Gundleus kidnapped and married her. (One aspect of the legend has King Arthur helping to defeat the pursuing Brychan and being dissuaded from capturing Gwladys for himself by two of his knights.)
Nevertheless, Gundleus and Gwladys led a riotous life, engaging in violence and banditry until their first son, Saint Cadoc (f.d. September 25), convinced them to adopt and follow a religious life together at Stow Hill near Newport (Gwent), Monmouthshire. Later he had them separate and live as hermits. (3)
Saint Gundleus later lived so as to have always in view the heavenly kingdom for which we are created by God. To secure this, he retired wholly from the world long before his death, and passed his time in a solitary little dwelling near a church which he had built. His clothing was sack-cloth, his food was barley-bread, upon which he usually strewed ashes, and his drink was water. Prayer and contemplation were his constant occupation, to which he rose at midnight, and he subsisted by the labour of his hands: thus he lived many years. Some days before his death he sent for St. Dubritius and his son St. Cadoc, and by their assistance, and the holy rites of the church, prepared himself for his passage to eternity. He departed to our Lord towards the end of the fifth century, and was glorified by miracles. (2)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff