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Wales: 1500 Years of Christian Worship

Posted on: January 17, 2000 2:50 PM
Related Categories: Wales

During the dark ages that descended on much of Britain following the Roman withdrawal in the 5th century AD, Christianity survived and flourished where Celtic saints maintained the traditions and teachings in Ireland and along the western seaboard of Britain.

St Illtud was one of the leading figures among these Celtic saints, and he is believed to have founded a church in Llantwit Major in about AD500. In Welsh (Llanilltud Fawr) the name means "the great church of Illtud". As his fame increased he built on the same site a monastery, a mission centre and a school - the oldest educational establishment in Wales.

Illtud travelled throughout South Wales and also Brittany in Northern France, preaching the gospel and founding churches. It is possible that St David attended his school - certainly other influential saints of the time did.

The original church was rebuilt by the Normans and later extended to serve the needs of the local parish and the monks. In 1777, after preaching there, John Wesley wrote, "I have not seen so large and handsome a church since I left England."

2000 sees the 1500th anniversary of the founding of the church at Llantwit Major, and a number of events have been planned to celebrate the occasion, including a festival on 17th June to which all the churches in Wales and Brittany have been invited. On 8th November, St Illtud's day, a service of remembrance and re-dedication will be held, led by the Archbishop of Wales and the Bishop of Llandaff.

Llantwit Major is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan on the coast of South Wales, in the Diocese of Llandaff.

Item from: Welsh Church Life