Celtic and Old English Saints          29 March

* St. Gwynllyw of Wales
* St. Gwladys
* St. Eustace of Luxeuil
* St. Lasar
* St. Rupert of Salzburg

St. Gwynllyw of Wales, Hermit
(Gundleus, Woolo, Woollos)
Died c. 500. Gundleus (Latin for Gwynllyw, which is anglicised as
Woolo) was a Welsh chieftain. Although he was the eldest, when his
father died, Gundleus divided his inheritance among his six brothers.
According to legend, he desired to marry Gwladys (f.d. today), 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.

Gundleus spent his last years completely retired from the world in a
solitary little dwelling near a church which he had built. He wore
sackcloth, ate barley-bread strewn with ashes, and drank water. To
constant prayer and contemplation he added the work of his hands. On
his deathbed, Gundleus was visited by Saint Dyfrig (f.d. November 14)
and his own son Cadoc, who provided him with the Last Rites of the
Church. There is a church dedicated to him at Newport (Attwater2,
Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth).

Icon of St. Gwynllyw

Troparion of St Gladys and St Gwynllyn tone 5
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.

St. Gwaladys (Gladys, Gladusa, Claudia), Hermit
Born in Wales in the 5th century. One of the 24 children of Brychan of
Brecknock, wife of Saint Gundleus (f.d. today), and
mother of Saints Cadoc (f.d. September 25) and, possibly, Keyna (f.d.
October 8), Saint Gladys led a very interesting life. It is said that
after their conversion by the example and exhortation of their son, she
and Gundleus lived an austere life. It included the rather interesting
practice throughout the year of taking a nightly baths in the Usk,
followed by a mile-long walk unclothed. Her son finally convinced them
to end the practice and to separate. Gladys moved to Pencanau in
Bassaleg. The details of her story come from a 12th-century "vita,"
which includes miracles that took place in the time of Saint Edward the
Confessor (f.d. October 13) and William I (Attwater2, Benedictines,
Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth).

St. Eustace (Eustasius) of Luxeuil, Abbot
Died 625. Saint Eustace was a favourite disciple and monk of Saint
Columbanus (f.d. November 23), whom he succeeded as second abbot of
Luxeuil in 611. He ruled over about 600 monks. During his abbacy the
monastery was a veritable seminary for bishops and saints, perhaps
because of the example he gave by his own humility, continual prayer,
and fasting (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

St. Lasar (Lassar, Lassera), Virgin
6th century. The Irish nun Saint Lasar (meaning 'Flame') was the niece
of Saint Forchera. Still very young, she entered religious life under
the care of SS. Finnian (f.d. December 12) and Ciaran (f.d. September 9)
at Clonard (Benedictines).

St. Rupert (Hrodbert, Robert, Rupprecht) of Salzburg, Bishop
Died in Salzburg, Austria, on March 27, c. 710-720; feast day formerly
March 27; feast of the translation of his relics is kept
in Bavaria and Austria on September 25.

There have been varying opinions as to where Rupert was born and when
(with variations of 100 years). While more reliable sources make him a
Frankish nobleman, others, including Colgan insist he was an Irishman
with the Gaelic name Robertach. From his youth he was renowned for his
learning, extraordinary virtues, austerity, and charity that sought to
impoverish himself to enrich the poor. People came from remote provinces
to receive his advice. He would remove all their doubts and scruples,
comfort the afflicted, cure the sick, and heal the disorders of souls.
His virtuous life led to his being consecrated bishop of Worms, Germany,
from where he began his missionary work in southern Bavaria and Austria.
(One version says he was expelled by the pagans at Worms, others that he
was simply a zealous, evangelical Christian.)

Rupert travelled to Regensburg (Ratisbon) with a small company about
697, perhaps with credentials from the French King Childebert III, or
because Duke Theodo of Bavaria had heard of his reputation for miracles
and invited him. They went to Duke Theodo, whose permission they needed
to proceed. While Theodo was not a Christian, his sister, Bagintrude,
is said to have been one. He agreed to listen to their preaching and
was converted and baptized. Many of the leading men and women of the
land followed the duke's example and embraced Christianity, which had
been preached there 200 years earlier by Saint Severinus of Noricum
(f.d. January 8).

Instead of knocking down pagan temples, as many missionaries did, Rupert
preferred to consecrate them as Christian churches. For example, those
at Regensburg and Altoetting were soon altered for Christian services.
(It is said that the statue of the Blessed Mother at Altoetting was
brought there from Ireland by an Irishman named Rupert.) Where there
was no suitable temple to adapt churches were built, and Regensburg
became primarily Christian. God confirmed Rupert's preaching by many
miracles. Soon the missionary work met with such success that many more
helpers from Franconia were needed to meet the spiritual needs of
Rupert's converts.

The group continued down the Danube, converting still more. After
Ratisbon, the capital, the next seat of his labours was "Laureacum," now
called Lorch, where he healed several diseases by prayer, and won many
other souls to Christ. But in neither of these flourishing towns did
Rupert establish his bishopric. He made the old, fallen-down town of
Juvavum, given to him by the duke of Bavaria, his headquarters. The
town was restored and he named it Salzburg (Salt Fortress). There with
the help of his companions Saints Virgilius (f.d. November 27), Chuniald
(f.d. September 24), and Gislar (f.d. September 24), Rupert founded
Saint Peter's church and monastery with a school along the lines of the
Irish monasteries.

He made a trip home to gather twelve more recruits. His sister, Saint
Ermentrudis (f.d. June 30), entered a convent he founded at Nonnberg
(setting for "The Sound of Music") and became its first abbess. He did
much to foster the operation of the salt mines. Rupert, the first
archbishop of Salzburg, is considered to be the Apostle of Bavaria and
Austria. He died on Easter Day. Thereafter, he became so renowned that
countries such as Ireland claimed him as a native son and celebrate his
memory liturgically. The Duchy of Salzburg cast his likeness with that
of the Saint Virgilius on the coin of the realm called a rubentaler
(Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, D'Arcy, Encyclopaedia,
Farmer, Gougaud, Husenbeth, Kenney,
Walsh, White).

Rupert's emblem in art is a barrel of salt, because of his association
with the reopening of the salt mines. He may be shown
holding a basket of eggs; baptizing Duke Theodo(re) of Bavaria; or with
Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (Farmer, Roeder, White).


Attwater, D. (1958). A Dictionary of Saints. New York:
P. J. Kennedy & Sons. [Attwater 2]

Benedictine Monks of Saint Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Bentley, J. (1986). A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the
Principal Saints of the Christian Year, NY: Facts on File.

D'Arcy, M. R. (1974). The Saints of Ireland. Saint Paul, Minnesota:
Irish American Cultural Institute. [This is probably the most
useful book to choose to own on the Irish saints. The author
provides a great deal of historical context in which to place the
lives of the saints.]

Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, March. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.

Kenney, J. F. (1929). Sources for Early History of Ireland, vol.
1, Ecclesiastical. New York: Columbia University Press.

Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and Their Attributes, Chicago: Henry

Walsh, M. (ed.). (1985). Butler's Lives of the Saints. San Francisco.
Harper & Row. Walsh, W. T. (1943).

White, K. E. (1992). Guide to the Saints. NY: Ivy Books.

For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:


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