Who was St Dyfrig?

St Dyfrig or Dyffryn (in Latin, Dubricius) was one of the great Celtic saints prominent in the history of Wales in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries of Christianity. The earliest account of his life appeared in the twelfth century, some five hundred years after his death. According to this account, he was thought to be the son of Eurddil, daughter of Pebia Claforwg, Prince of Ergyng, which is now part of modern Herefordshire; he was born at Madley on the River Wye.

As a child he was noted for his intellect, and by the time he was a man he was known as a scholar throughout Britain. He founded a college at Henllan (Hentland in Herefordshire) to which great numbers of scholars, including St Illtud, came. Dyfrig later moved further up the Wye to found an abbey. While he was abbot he was chosen to be the first Bishop of Llandaff. He laboured long and hard against the Pelagian heresy, which denied man's need of God's grace. There are strong indications that he, or his monks, went as missionaries to Somerset, founding churches and monasteries.

Eventually Dyfrig resigned his see at Llandaff and retired to Bardsey Island, with his disciples. Here he lived as a hermit until his death in about 612. His remains were translated to his church at Llandaff, to a tomb before the Lady Altar in 'the old monastery' which later became the cathedral church. We do not know the date of his canonisation - most likely he was recognised as a saint by popular acclaim - but his feastday is celebrated on November 14th.

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