Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Patron Saints

The parish here (and the village itself ) has a patron saint whose origins are largely lost in the mists of Celtic antiquity and Reformation discontinuity and iconoclasm. Who was (is!) St Arvan has been the subject of quite a few homilies here over the years by both visiting and resident clergy. This is the nearest we can get to an answer.
But this is our Patronal Festival Week. A few years ago, there not being a feast day assigned to our own particular celtic hermit, we decided upon the nearest Sunday to July 12th. Some might think that this is, perhaps, do-it-yourself patrimony of a rather dubious nature, although I prefer to think of it as at least an honest attempt to recover something of what has been lost.
But rightly,  it was thought very important to honour someone the memory of whose holiness of life lives on even when the detail of his life has been largely forgotten.

In choosing this particular week we were motivated not only by the likely prospect of good weather and  the desire to find a date before the beginning of the long British school holidays, but also by the proximity of the Feast of St Benedict, whose communities (in the Cistercian reform) had such an influence on the history of our local area. The parish itself before the mid-sixteenth century was run by the local Augustinian priory in nearby Chepstow.
Our Festival Mass is on Sunday, followed by the parish barbecue, and the local male voice choir is singing in church on Friday evening, but we began our celebrations with a more "secular" event (although the middle ages knew no such distinction), a very well-attended concert given by Kathryn Price and Charles Matthews (see an earlier post!) and joined for the second part of the programme by jazz bass player David Ayres and  percussionist Robin Payne.
It's not processions through the streets and wild public rejoicing, but it's a start!
St Arvan pray for us

I'm still having problems from time to time in viewing & posting comments on the blog. So, if you have commented on anything  & it hasn't been displayed, it's nothing personal, just the gremlins again!


  1. Does history not record the date of the Gw^yl Mabsant for your parish? It survived in most places into the nineteenth century, albeit in a purely secular form.

  2. Thank you for this comment. No, not that I can find. If anyone does have any information about that, I would be very grateful.

  3. One of the problems we have is the very early date of the arrival of the Normans in this part of south-east Wales. They began the building of Chepstow Castle (3 miles away) in 1067.


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