The Celtic Literature Collective

The Life of St. Oudoceus

There was one Budic, the son of Cybydan, a native of Cornugallia, who being expelled from his country, came with his fleet to the region of Dyfed in the time of Aircol Lawhir, who was King thereof; who while he remained in that country married Anauued, the daughter of Ensic, whose mother was Gwenhaf, daughter of Llefoniw; from which Anaumed there were born to him Ismael, and the martyr Tyfei, who lies buried at Penaly. While he remained in the country, messengers were sent to him from his native region, Cornugallia, requesting that he would come, with all his family, without delay, and by the aid of the Britons obtain the kingdom of the nation of Armorica, whose King being dead, they, in a council called by them, had unanimously expressed their wishes for him to succeed, as he was born of royal progeny. The message having been heard, and affectionately received, he took his wife, then pregnant, and all his family, and with a fleet he went to his country, and reigned over all the region of Armorica, which in his time extended as far as the Alps. His wife brought forth to him a son, who was named Oudoceus; whom afterwards, when he arrived at a proper age, he sent to study literature, for he had before promised St. Teilo in Britain, that if he should have a son, he would commend him to God, as he had before commended his two brothers, of whom we have spoken. And St. Oudoceus from his infancy began to excel in learning and eloquence, so far as to surpass his contemporaries and companions in morals and sanctity.

And after a very long time, the Yellow Pestilence came to the Greater Britain, which was called Yellow, because it occasioned all persons who were seized by it, to be yellow and very pallid, and it appeared to men as a column of a watery cloud, having one end trailing along the ground, and the other above, proceeding in the air, and passing through the whole country like a shower going along the bottom of the values. Whatever living creatures it touched with its pestiferous blast, either immediately died, or sickened for death. If any one endeavoured to apply a remedy to the sick persons, not only had the medicine no effect, but the dreadful disorder brought the physician, together with the sick person, to death. And after a very long space of time, it ceased by the prayer of St. Teilo, and the holy men of Britain. And that the ancient nation should not all be destroyed, a divine voice came to St. Teilo, directing him to go, together with his clergy and people, to Cornugallia., which afterwards was called Cerniw Budic, and there he found his nephew Oudoceus, who was eminent and gentle, and learned in both kinds of law, shining as a candle on a candlestick. And after receiving these directions, St. Teilo, Archbishop of Llandaff, the church of St. Peter the apostle, returned to his native country, with his nephew accompanying him, who so far increased in goodness and knowledge, that by the election of the clergy and people, he succeeded to the Bishopric of the Church of Llandaff being chosen by the clergy, Merchwyn, and Elwared, and Cynfyn, a master; and three Abbots, Cadgen, Abbot of Illtyd; Cyngeu, Abbot of Cadmael; Cednig, Abbot of Docunni; and by the laity, King Meurig, and his sons Athrwys, and Idnerth, Gwyddwell, and Cetiau, Brochwael, Cynddog, Llywouerth, Cadwalader, and all the Princes of the whole diocese. St. Oudoceus was sent with his aforesaid clergy, Merchwyn, Elwared, and Cynfyn, and the messengers of the three Abbots, and of the King and Princes, to the blessed Archbishop, at the city of Canterbury, where he was consecrated Bishop of the Church of Llandaff, founded in honour of St. Peter. King Meurig, with his two sons, and his wife Onbrawst, daughter of Gwrgan the Great, and the three Abbots of the three monasteries, with all the Princes of his kingdom, and all the family of St. Dubricius, and St. Teilo of the Church of Llandaff, received him with joy, giving and confirming the same privilege as had before been given to St. Dubricius, and to St. Teilo, and to their successors, with all its dignity and liberty; and they went round the whole, with the King holding the four Gospels in his hand, and confirming the endowment of the holy Church, the holy cross preceding, and the holy choir fob lowing, with the chief Pastor, singing, “May peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.” “Glory and riches shall be in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever.” And with the sprinkling of holy water on all the boundaries, he confirmed the same Privilege as had been before given to St. Dubricius; that is, without Governor or Deputy Governor, without attending forensic meetings either within or without, without going on military expeditions, without keeping watch over the country either within or without, and with its Court complete, Thee, and entire as a regal court, with its refuge, in whose asylum the fugitive might remain safe without human protection, not for a limited time only, but without end, as long as he would, and with the bodies of the Kings of southern Britain granted and committed to Llandaff, for ever. And as the Church of Rome has dignity above all the churches of the catholic faith, so the Church of Llandaff exceeds all the churches of southern Britain in dignity, and in privilege, and in excellency; and with complete commonage to be enjoyed by the present and future inhabitants, in field, and in waters, in wood, and in pastures; and with those boundaries, From Cynlais within Taff, and EIei, the whole territory as far as the sea.

And for some time he held in peace the whole diocese, from Mochros to the island Teithi, until King Cadwgan, on a certain time, by the instigation of the devil, wounded one of the clergy of Bishop Oudoceus, and thus a spark of mischief arising, the King was moved by anger, and was desirous to expel the holy man from his country, beyond the Crafnell until it falls into the Uysc. Through the Uysc to Cily, to the Allt Lwyd, above Bychlit, to Cecyn Pennypynmarch, to Guornoyd, to Rhydnant, to the middle of Dinmarchlythan, to Ol y Gabr, to Bron Cateir, upwards to the source of Guerinou, to the top of Buch yr Vyncul, to the Brydell, to Hal Ruma, to Maen Bardd, in the Spring of Nant y Bardd, along Nant y Bardd downwards until it falls into the Dour, along the Dour downwards to the influx of the Guormuy,” the Guormuy in its length to its source, from the source of the Guormuy to Cair rein, from Cair rein to the source of the Taratyr, thence along it to its influx into the Guy, along the Guy until where it falls into the Hafren, in its length by the isle of Echni, to the estuary of the Tywi.

I. St. Oudoceus, after the time of his maturity, having visited the thresholds of St. Peter, and received the privilege of St. Dubricius, and St. Teilo, with the apostolical dignity which was confirmed to his posterity for ever, was desirous to visit the places where holy persons resided, and with great devotion sought the residence of St. David, on account of his veneration for him, and the daily mention of him in his prayers; and as he wished to take with him holy relics, he took them, and carried them with him with great veneration; and he also took with him from his place of residence at Llandeilo fawr, some of the relics of the disciples of his maternal uncle, St. Teilo, and placed them together in a chest convenient for the purpose.

II. And as he travelled through his diocese, towards his Church at Llandaff, his attendants reverently carrying the relics, and singing psalms with praises, and the holy Cross going before, when they came to the road of Pennalit in Cydweli, there came some persons from the rocks of Pennallt, who had ill will against the holy man, and said, “Shall those clergy, who are loaded with gold and silver, and as we may say, with the treasures of St. David, and St. Teilo, escape from our hands? No, let them be taken: and having got all their wealth from them, we shall be enriched with great weight of metal in gold and silver.” And being full of envy and covetousness, they attacked, with great fury, those who carried the chest; but when they reached forth their hands, and held their lances against the holy man and his attendants, their eyes, which sinned against them, lost their sight, and their arms, which were ready to shed the blood of the just person, became stiff, so that they could not bend them towards themselves, nor by any means extend them.

III. St. Oudoceus beholding the privation and death of the offenders, began to pray to God with bended knees in their behalf, performing the divine command, and saying, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he turn from his way and live.” And on the other part, the afflicted persons acknowledging their crime and asking pardon, and the prayer of the holy man being also heard, they recovered their sight, and resumed their restored senses; and having performed the penance enjoined on them suitable to their crime, promised in fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, perpetual obedience to the holy man, and his successors, and to the Church of Llandaff, and an ameiidment of life.

IV. St. Oudoceus being thirsty after undergoing labour, and more accustomed to drink water than any other liquor, came to a fountain in the vale of Llandaff not far from the Church, that he might drink, where he found women washing butter, after the manner of the country; and sending to them his messengers and disciples, they requested that they would accommodate them with a vessel, that their pastor might drink therefrom; who, ironically, as mischievous girls, said, “We have no other cup besides that which we hold in our hands, namely, the butter.” And the man of blessed memory taking it, formed one in the shape of a small bell; and he raised his hand so that he might drink therefrom, and he drank. And it remained in that form, that is, a golden one, so that it appeared to those who beheld it, to consist altogether of the purest gold; which by divine power is from that day reverently preserved in the Church of Llandaff, in memory of the holy man; and it is said that by touching it, health is given to the diseased.

V. When Einion, King of Glewyssig, hunted among the rocks and woods of the river Wye, as he was accustomed to do, he wondered greatly how and what course the stag was taking, as it was pursued by the dogs with the noise of horns and huntsmen through the values; but the divine protection preserved it throughout, until it reached the cloak of St. Oudoceus; when lying, it rested and recovered its breath, and was safe, as one who had come to a harbour after suffering shipwreck, or who had succeeded to joy after sorrow. The huntsmen remained afar off, with the dogs, mute and stupified, and being astonished, they now with knees bent to the Lord, regarded as a neighbour and friend, what they had before pursued as an enemy.

VI. St. Oudoceus, a man full of age and discreet maturity, who served God on the brook Caletan, near the river Wye, without his cloak, on which the stag lay, and which procured him safety and protection, had regard to the gentle beast, which the power of God had tamed; and King Einion and the hunters, with great astonishment, and with beiided knees, and hands lifted up towards heaven, asked pardon of the Lord and St. Oudoceus, with great devotion, as if they had committed some crime. First of all the King gave him quiet possession of the stag; afterwards he gave all the territory which he had gone round during the whole day, following the track of the stag, to God, and to St. Dubricius, St. Teilo, and St. Oudoceus the Bishop, and to all the Bishops of Llandaff for ever; the aforesaid track over mountains, brooks, and rocks, dividing for ever the territories of the church.

VII. The holy man, after the land, with its boundaries, was granted to him, and which had the name of Llan Einion, increased in virtue, and the situation being retired, and abounding in fish and honey, he there built a place of residence, and a convenient oratory; and there resided with his family, having resigned the honour of the pas­toral care of Llandaff, not because he did not satisfy the people, but because he did not satisfy himself in his charge. Having therefore given up the pastoral care, he wished to lead a religious life in retirement; and calling to him some brethren, he lived in communion with them during many years, leading a holy life, an eminent life, a life which from day to day advanced in improvement: and as many as came to him for advice, were refreshed by his paternal assistance. Nor was he at any time sparing of labour; indeed the common people came to him from every direction, that by means of his important, mild, and grave opinion with respect to supporting, and bearing affliction patiently, which they usually received, they might obtain safe protection from him, which was desirable to widows and orphans, of every description. He who was illustrious in outward appearance, was also illustrious in virtue, he shone in doctrine, and was eminent in reputation.

VIII. When he was engaged in prayer intermixed with tears and sighing, one of the brethren came to him, and said, “O! good father! come out that thou mayest see the timber which is prepared for thy buildings.” Which as he saw, lo! the good and just man, and the historian of all Britain, Gildas, the Wise, as he is named in histories, who resided at that time in the island of Echni, leading the life of a hermit, passed over the middle of the river in a boat, bringing with him the said timber as his own, having found it in the middle of the wood, without an owner, and far from the habitation of men. When St. Oudoceus saw him, he called to the brother to throw his building timber for him on the ground, or in a brotherly manner suppliantly obtain pardon from God and man for his unlawful conduct. Being unmindful of his admonition, and having uttered a prayer, he passed over in the boat; and as if with some indignation, brother Oudoceus took an axe, not that he should strike him, but that the power of God through him might appear in a creature of God for ever. The axe descended on a stone which was whole, and completely divided it, as if it had been done artificially by hand: nor are those stones to be avoided by any one who passes that way, for being near the bank of the river Wye, they are always in sight, appearing as cut by the wonderful blow, and immoveable.

IX. Only a few out of many of the miracles of this holy man, of blessed memory, are committed to writing, because the accounts have been either burnt in conflagrations, or were carried far off in the fleet of exiled citizens. What therefore have been since discovered and obtained from early monuments of old men, or the most ancient writings, are committed to memory and to writing. And his holy and glorious life being completed, with acquiring many lands to himself, and to his Church of Llandaff, he rested in the Lord on the 2nd day of July.