Happy St Teilo’s Day!

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings as we celebrate the feast of St Teilo. Поздравления съ праздникомъ!

We will chant a litia in his honour at the end of our Liturgy on Sunday, and I hope to make an informal pilgrimage to Llandaff cathedral with some of our young people after out Wessex prayer meeting. Next week.

St Teilo, our local early Welsh saint, was a 6th century monk and bishop, and for the Celtic Christians a patron saint of fruit trees and horses, his feast day falling today: 9th/22nd February.

Although a largely forgotten saint outside Wales and Brittany, more than twenty five churches in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany are dedicated to him, showing his importance as an early Welsh saint. Only our national patron saint, St David, has more churches dedicated to him.

So who was St Teilo? According to tradition, Teilo (also known as Elios, Eliau, Teliarus, Teliau or Télo), was born at Penally near Tenby in South Pembrokeshire around 480-500AD. He went on to study under St Paulinus at the monastic school at Whitland, Carmarthenshire. Here he met and became firm friends with Dewi (St David), who may have been his cousin. Teilo subsequently travelled with him to Mynyw, now known as St David’s, where Dewi set up his religious community.

In about 518 AD the friends, along with St Padarn, are said to have set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where all three were consecrated bishops by John III, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Bishop Teilo went on to found the episcopal church of Llandeilo Fawr (the Great Church or Abbey of St Teilo) in Carmarthenshire. However, the outbreak of Yellow Fever in Wales around 549 AD forced Teilo and his religious community to flee to Cornwall and from there, over to Dol in Brittany where they stayed for seven years.

Teilo and his followers would not have felt too out of place in northern France. Driven out of southern Britain by invading Germanic tribes, Celtic people had begun to settle there since the 5th and 6th centuries.

There are several legends about Teilo during his time in Brittany. According to one, he saved the local people from a winged dragon that he tamed and then kept tied to a rock in the sea. In another, when a local lord offered him all the land he could encircle between sunset and sunrise, Teilo chose to ride on a stag to cover as much ground as possible in the time available.

Several churches in Brittany are dedicated to St Teilo, including the church at Plogonnec, Finistére, and the Chapel of Our Lady in Kerdévot. In both cases he is shown wearing bishop’s robes and mitre, and is seated on a stag, no doubt in reference to the legend.

Whilst in France, Teilo, St Samson and his followers are also said to have planted three miles of fruit trees. Even today the fruit groves they planted are known as the groves of Teilo and Samson.

In around 554 Teilo and his followers returned from Brittany to Llandeilo Fawr. After the death of St. David, Teilo became revered as one of the most holy men in Wales. He was joined at Llandeilo by many disciples including Cynfwr, Teulyddog and Llywel. He died at the abbey of Llandeilo Fawr on February 9th, probably around the year 560.

Hierarch of Christ, Teilo, pray to God for us!

Светителю отче Тейло, моли Бога о нас!

Posted in Saints.