Celtic and Old English Saints          7 July

* St. Maelruain of Tallaght
* St. Illtyd of Llantwit Abbey
* St. Boisil of Melrose
* St. Medran and St. Odran of Muskerry
* St. St. Merryn of Cornwall
* St. Ercongota of Faremoutiers
* St. Ethelburga of Faremoutiers
* St. Hedda of Winchester

St. Illtud, Abbot
(also known as Illtyd, Iltut, Illtut)

Died c. 505 (another source says 450-535).

Illtud, clearly an outstanding figure and one of the most celebrated
Welsh saints, laboured chiefly in the southeastern part of the country.
His vita written circa 1140 has little historical value; but the Life of
Saint Samson, composed about 500 years earlier, has some important
references. This author names him as a disciple of Saint Germanus of
Auxerre, who ordained him. It calls Illtud 'the most learned of the
Britons in both Testaments and in all kinds of knowledge,' and speaks of
his great monastic school.

This establishment was Llanilltyd Fawr (Llantwit Major in Glamorgan),
where other prominent saints besides Samson are said to have been
Illtyd's pupils. The monastery of Llantwit survived in one form or
another until the Norman conquest (1066).

The author of Samson's Life also describes Illtud's death, in
illustration of the saint's power of prophecy. The passage is an
impressive one, but it does not state where or when the death took

Nevertheless, most of his life is derived mainly from oral traditions.
According to them, he was the son of a Briton living in Letavia,
Brittany (some scholars believe Letavia is an area in central Brednock,
England, rather than in Brittany), who came to visit his cousin King
Arthur of England about 470.

The later vita says that Illtud married Trynihid and then served in the
army of a Glamorgan chieftain. When one of his friends was killed in a
hunting accident, Saint Cadoc is said to have counselled him to leave
the world behind. This is, of course, improbable because Cadoc would
have been a mere lad.

Illtud and Trynihid took Cadoc's advice and lived together as recluses
in a hut by the Nadafan River until he was warned by an angel to
separate from her. He left his wife to become a monk under Saint
Dubricius, but after a time resumed his eremitical life by a stream
called the Hodnant. He attracted many disciples and organised them into
the Llanwit Major monastery, which, according to the ninth-century Life
of Saint Paul Aurelian, was originally "within the borders of Dyfed,
called Pyr," usually identified as Calder (Caldey) Island off Tenby. The
monastery soon developed into a great foundation and a centre of
missionary activity in Wales.

Many miracles were attributed to him (he was fed by heaven when forced
to flee the ire of a local chieftain and take refuge in a cave; he
miraculously restored a collapsed seawall), and he is reputed to have
sent or taken grain to relieve a famine in Brittany, where the place and
church names attest to some connection with Illtud.

His death is reported at Dol, Brittany, where he had retired in his old
age, at Llanwit, and at Defynock. One Welsh tradition has him as one of
the three knights put in charge of the Holy Grail by Arthur, and another
one even identifies him as Galahad (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney,
Doble, Walsh).


Another Life of St. Illtyd

Flourished in the latter part of the fifth and beginning of the sixth
century, and was held in high veneration in Wales, where many churches
were dedicated to him, chiefly in Glamorganshire. Born in Armorica, of
Bicanys and Rieniguilida, sister of Emyr Llydaw, he was a grandnephew of
St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre.

According to one account he crossed to Britain and joined King Arthur's
Court, and later went to Glamorgan, where he was miraculously converted
by St. Cadoc. These details, however, rest on a late life of the saint
(Cottonian MS., Vesp. A XIV). He is supposed to have been ordained by
St. Dubricius, Bishop of Llandaff, and with the assistance of Meirchon,
Glamorgan chieftain, to have built a church and a monastery, which
became a centre of learning, one of the three great monastic schools in
the Diocese of Llandaff. Among the scholars who flocked thither were
Sts. Gildas, Samson, and Maglorius, whose lives, written about 600
("Acta SS. Ordinis S. Benedicti", Venice, 1733), constitute the earliest
source of information on St. Illtyd. According to these, his school was
situated on a small waste island, which, at his intercession, was
miraculously reunited with the mainland, and was known as Llantilllyd
Fawr, the Welsh form of Llantwit Major, Glamorganshire. The story of the
miracle may have been inspired by the fact that the saint was skilled in
agriculture, for he is supposed to have introduced among the Welsh
better methods of ploughing, and to have helped them reclaim land from
the sea.

The legendary place of his burial is close by the chapel dedicated to
him in Brecknockshire, and is called Bedd Gwyl Illtyd, or the "grave of
St. Illtyd's eve", the old custom of having been to keep vigil there on
the eve of his feast, which was celebrated 7 February. There is still to
be seen in Llantwit Major a cross, probably on the ninth century,
bearing the


Troparion of St Illtyd tone 6
O wise Illtyd, thou wast noble by birth and noble in mind/ and didst
train many saints in the way of holiness./ Pray to Christ our God to
raise up saints in our days/ to His glory and for our salvation.

St. Boisil (Boswell) of Melrose, Abbot
Died c. 664. Comm. also January 23 and February 23.

Saint Boisil was the prior of the famous abbey of Melrose (Mailross),
situated on the Tweed River in a great forest in Northumberland, while
Saint Eata was abbot. Both were English youths trained in monasticism by
Saint Aidan. Saint Bede says that Boisil was a man of sublime virtues,
imbued with a prophetic spirit. His eminent sanctity drew Saint Cuthbert
to Melrose rather than to Lindisfarne in his youth. It was from Boisil
that Cuthbert learned the sacred scriptures and virtue.

Saint Boisil had the holy names of the adorable Trinity ever on his
lips. He repeated the name Jesus Christ with a wonderful sentiment of
devotion, and often with such an abundance of tears that others would
weep with him. With tender affection he would frequently say, "How good
a Jesus we have!" At the first sight of Saint Cuthbert, Boisil said to
bystanders, "Behold a servant of God!"

Bede produces the testimony of Saint Cuthbert, who declared that Boisil
foretold to him the chief things that afterwards happened to him. Three
years beforehand he foretold of the great pestilence of 664, and that
hehimself should die of it, but that Eata the abbot should survive.

In addition to continually instructing his brothers in religion, Boisil
made frequent excursions into the villages to preach to the poor, and to
bring straying souls on to the paths of truth and life. He was also
known for his aid to the poor.

Again, Boisil told Cuthbert, recovering from the plague, "You see,
brother, that God has delivered you from this disease, nor shall you
ever feel it again, nor die at this time; but my death being at hand,
neglect not to learn something from me so long as I shall be able to
teach you, which will be no more than seven days." So Cuthbert asked,
"And what will be best for me to read which may be finished in seven
days." To which Boisil replied, "The Gospel of Saint John, which we may
in that time read over, and confer upon as much as shall be necessary."

Having accomplished the reading in seven days, the man of God, Boisil,
became ill and died in extraordinary jubilation of soul, out of his
earnest desire to be with Christ.

During his life he repeatedly instructed his brothers, "That they would
never cease giving thanks to God for the gift of their religious
vocation; that they would always watch over themselves against self-love
and all attachment to their own will and private judgement, as against
their capital enemy; that they would converse assiduously with God by
interior prayer, and labour continually to attain to the most perfect
purity of heart, this being the true and short road to the perfection of
Christian virtue."

Bede relates that Saint Boisil continued after his death to interest
himself particularly in obtaining divine mercy and grace for his country
and his friends. He appeared twice to one of his disciples, giving him a
charge to assure Saint Egbert, who had been hindered from preaching the
Gospel in Germany, that God commanded him to repair the monasteries of
Saint Columba on Iona and in the Orkneys, and to instruct them in the
right manner of celebrating Easter.

The relics of Boisil were translated to Durham, and deposited near those
of his disciple, Saint Cuthbert, in 1030 (Benedictines, Delaney,

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