Of course, the Reformation and the rise of an all encompassing English nationalism under the Tudors (with which the Welsh were only too eager to identify) effectively buried this nostalgia for a form of Roman, “European” identity. The Reformation, though probably at first rather grudgingly accepted in Wales as it was in England, and the later spread of Methodism – in its Calvinistic form - effectively put paid to such dreams of the past by tying itself to the myth of a separate British identity, in religion as in politics. Although the remarkable success of nonconformity in Wales, as in Cornwall, can perhaps be accounted for by the lack of emotional affinity from a Celtic people towards the wordy sobriety of the Cranmerian Prayer Books, so wholehearted embraced by their socially ambitious gentry. The passion and colour of medieval Catholicism, rejected by the Church of England, was perhaps eventually rediscovered in another form in the chapel pulpits.
“Catholic” Wales lived on in isolated pockets of, at times bloodily persecuted and, later, barely tolerated recusancy, particularly in north-east Monmouthshire, until the waves of Irish immigration to South Wales in the nineteenth century gave it a wholly different character.
Anglicans in Wales were influenced greatly by the Oxford Movement (from Isaac Williams onwards) in places as far apart as rural Bangor and the seaports of industrial South Wales, and the “Anglican province” of the Church in Wales which emerged from its reluctant disestablishment in the nineteen twenties had a distinctively anglo-celtic “Prayer Book Catholic” ethos which it has taken modern theological liberalism some time to destroy. Little remains of it now except, ironically, an instinctive and viscerally anti-catholic Welsh nationalism - a world away from the religion of the Catholic, Saunders Lewis, not to mention the Anglicans, C. A.H. Green or A. E. Monahan!
Is any of this significant? Probably not; it is little more than a somewhat fanciful historical ecclesiological footnote, but maybe one worth recording before even the memory of it is swept away by the onslaught of modern secular barbarism.
Yet perhaps the fragments of ‘Romanitas’ buried deep in our religious and cultural consciousness also form a forgotten element of the patrimony of Welsh members (if there will be any) of a future Anglican Ordinariate.