St. Teilo, the son of Prince Ensig ap Hydwn - a grandson of King Ceredig of Ceredigion - was probably born at Penalun (Penally) around AD 500. His original name was apparently Eliud and, from a young, age, he studied under St. Paulinus of Wales at Wincdi-Lantquendi (supposedly Whitland). Here, he met St. Dewi and the two became close companions. Along with Aeddan and Ysfael, the four travelled to Mynyw (St. Davids) where Dewi founded his famous abbey. They were at first harassed by an Irish pirate named Bwya but he was eventually struck down and his fortress burnt to the ground.
An old tale is often told of how, while Teilo and Aeddan were reading in the cloister at Mynyw (St. Davids), they were called upon to replenish the monastery's fuel stores. Annoyed at having been drawn away from their studies, the two monks took their axes off to the woods; but found their task much easier than expected when two tame stags aided them in carrying the wood home.
Teilo is said to have made a pilgrimage to Rome, with Dewi and Padern, where all three were consecrated bishops by the Pope. Teilo succeeded St. Dyfrig as Bishop of Glywysing & Gwent and probably moved the Bishop's Seat to his foundation at Llandeilo Fawr (in Ystrad Tywi). After the great yellow plague swept through Wales in AD 549, however, Teilo took his surviving community to Brittany. They travelled through Dumnonia, where they were entertained by King Gerren, before being greeted by St. Samson, across the Channel in Dol. From here, Teilo was persuaded by his brother-in-law, King Budic, to join him in Cornouaille and save the country from the ravages of a winged dragon. Teilo supposedly tamed the creature and kept it tied to a rock in the sea. He stayed in Cornouaille for seven years, but eventually he felt it time to go back to Llandeilo Fawr - with his nephews, Ysfael and Tyfai - attending King Gerren upon his return.
After the death of St. Dewi, Teilo became known as one of the most holy men in Wales. He was joined at Llandeilo by many disciples: Inabwy, Gwrfaeth, Cynfwr, Teulyddog, Llywel, Fidelis and his supposed third nephew, Euddogwy (although this relationship is impossible). He supposedly consecrated another nephew, Ysfael, as St. Dewi's successor as Archbishop of Wales. Teilo died at the Abbey of Llandeilo Fawr on 9th February, though the year is unknown. His body is said to have miraculously multiplied in order to satisfy the burial claims of Penally, Llandeilo Fawr and Llandaff. Although the later cathedral almost certainly did not did exist at this time, he may have been translated there in later years. His tomb can still be seen to the right of the high altar there, while his head is still kept enshrined in the south chapel.
Records of St. Teilo date back to the 6th century. He is generally considered historic.
|© Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.|