ST DWYNWEN – OUR VERY OWN WELSH ST VALENTINE. Celebrated in Wales on 25th January
The story of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, is based on a mixture of songs, folklore and Celtic stories. She was reputed to be one of the 24 daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog, a legendary 5th-century king of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire, alternatively Breconshire) in South Wales.
Dwynwen, by far the prettiest of the daughters had fallen in love with Maelon Dafodill, but her father had promised her to another man. Obedient to her father an unhappy Dwynwen – whose name translates as “she who leads a blessed life” – prayed to God asking for help to forget Maelon. In response to her prayers an angel came to her in her sleep and gave her a potion to erase her memory of Maelon, and turned poor Maelon into a block of ice.
In gratitude for the help given to her, Dwynwen devoted her life to God, setting up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn, off the coast of Anglesey. The remains of the church can still be seen there – along with Dwynwen’s Well.
This Well is said to contain magical fish which can predict the likelihood of the success of a relationship when couples visit it: the more active the fish, the more likely the longevity of the relationship!
It is said that God then gave Dwynwen three wishes:
- That Maelon should be thawed
- That God meet the hopes and dreams of lovers
- That she should never marry
God granted all three and she devoted herself to the service of God for the rest of her life.
There are several versions of Dwynwen’s story, but I like his one best and will celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day with this in mind.
St Dwynwen’ Celebrations.
Although Dwynwen is no longer recognised as a Saint by the Vatican, here in Wales the celebration of Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day) on 25th January is becoming increasingly popular, with events such as parties, and concerts being held. Cards, printed in Welsh, are available, encouraged, in part, by Bwrdd yr Iaith (The Welsh Language Board).
Author: Cathrine Moon