Wednesday, 26 August 2009

St Dunawd, Bangor on Dee

Undertook a visit to the Church of St Dunawd, Bangor on Dee, Wales. It has an interesting history as can be read in the online "New Advent" catholic encyclopedia.

The monastery of Bangor of the Dee was known also as Bangor-is-Coed, i.e. "the eminent choir under the wood". The name Bangor was applied to several large monasteries, and is said to be derived from "Benedictus Chorus", shortened into Benchor, and subsequently written as Bangor.

The monastery on the Dee was distance about ten or twelve miles from Chester, and its ruins witness to its former extent and importance. St. Bede the Venerable (lib. II, c. ii.) says that it was filled with learned men at the coming of St. Augustine into England. Of the founder of this religious house and its history little if anything seems to be known, as all its chronicles, documents, etc. have been lost or destroyed.

We know, however, of its tragic extinction about the year 603. While the forces of Cadvan, King of North Wales, engaged those of the pagan and usurping Edilfrid of Northumbria, the monks were assembled on an eminence a short distance from the place of conflict. "The two armies", says Lingard, "met in the vicinity of Chester.

On the summit of a neighbouring hill, Edilfrid espied an unarmed crowd, the monks of Bangor, who, like Moses in the wilderness, had hoped by their prayers to determine the fate of battle. "If they pray", exclaimed the pagan, "they fight against us"; and he ordered a detachment of his army to put them to the sword...Chester was taken, and Bangor (monastery) demolished.

The scattered ruins demonstrated to subsequent generations the extent of that celebrated monastery" (Hist. Engl., II, 96). He adds in a note: "the number of monks slain on the hill is generally said to have been twelve hundred; but St. Bede observes that others besides the monks had assembled to pray. He supposes that the victory of Edilfrid fulfilled the predictions of Augustine."


Fran said...

So lovely! Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

May I assist in regard to the History of the slaughter of the Monks who were not pagan but Christian.
It is an established fact that Augustine came to Bangor on Dee to force the Christian Community to change their Biblical Practices of Celebrating Passover ( Leviticus 23 ) and the Biblical Sabbath (4th Commandment)to the Pagan Feast of Easter (Ostre) and Sunday the day of Mithras worship. When they refused Edelfred with 50,000 Soldiers directed by Augustine slaughtered every Christian in the Community, probably more than 1200 and burned down every building connected to them. see "Early British History" by G H Whalley. Despite this massacre and continued persecution by Pagan Rome, Christians in Wales kept the Biblical Sabbath until 1115.
I hope this helps.
Michael Fryer

Paul Davies said...

Michael is bang on the money. Christianity had been received into Britain when Jesus himself visited as a child with his decurion uncle Joseph who was 'in te tin trade'. He built a wattle and daub church at Glastonbury and Britain later provided a shelter for the exiled family of Jesus when Joseph returned after the crucifixion and planted his staff on Wearyall Hill. When Augustine arrived he found christianity firmly established in Wales beyond the pagan English people. He called the Welsh monks to a meeting saying he represented the pope who was God's representative on Earth. The Welsh reasoned that if this was true then when they arrived after their long journey, Augustine would offer to wash their feet. Instead he wanted ten to kiss his ring. They knew then he was false and walked away. After the slaughter the few monks who survived fled to establish the new Bangor at...well... Bangor of course.