Cadoc, Abbot of Llancarfan
Died c. 575 AD. St Cadoc (Cadog, Catwig) was one of the most
celebrated of the Welsh saints, but the earliest accounts of him were
not written till some 600 years after the events they claim to record.
According to these he was the son of St. Gundleus and St. Gwladys, and
was baptized by the Irish St. Tatheus, to whom Gundleus entrusted the
boy's education, "in preference to all the other teachers of Britain",
in his school at Caerwent. At Llancarfan (formerly Nantcarfan), between
Cardiff and Llantwit Major, Cadoc founded a monastery, and then passed
over to Ireland, where he spent three years in study. On his return he
went into Brecknock, for further study under a tutor named Bachan; here
he miraculously relieved a famine by the discovery of an unknown store
of wheat, and at the scene of this find founded the church of
Llanspyddid, which still bears his name.
Cadoc then went back to Llancarfan, which was the resort of many because
of its fame for holiness and learning. We are particularly told that he
gave his disciples (St Gildas is said to have been one of them) the
example of living by the work of his own hands and not those of others,
for "he who does not work shall not eat". His biographer Caradoc gives
some details of
the teaching methods at the monastery, which clearly represent his own
practice in the eleventh century at Llancarfan, not Cadoc's. The
monastery fed five hundred dependants and poor every day, and its abbot
had authority over all the surrounding country.
During Lent Cadoc would retire from all this activity to the solitude of
the islands of Barry and Flatholm, but always came back to his monastery
in time for Easter. Another place of retreat, bearing his name, is now
called Cadoxton, by Neath.
There is evidence that St Cadoc visited Brittany, Cornwall, and
Scotland, founding a monastery at Cambuslang; and he is said to have
been present at the synod of Llandewi Frefi, and to have made the
common-form pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem. Very wonderful are the
circumstances of his death, as reported by his biographer Lifris.
Warned by an angel in a dream on the eve of Palm Sunday, he was
transported "in a white cloud" to Benevento in Italy, where he was made
bishop and met his death by martyrdom. Caradoc, too, takes him to
Benevento, not miraculously, but by road, and says nothing about
martyrdom: he died peacefully, and all the city accompanied him to
burial, "with hymns and songs and lights". It is not unlikely
that the actual place of St Cadoc's death was at Llansannor, a few miles
from Llancarfan. His feast is observed today throughout Wales.
St Cadoc's biographers were both clerics of Llancarfan: Lifris wrote his
"vita" (text and translation in A.W. Wade-Evans, "Vitae sanctorum
Britanniae, 1944) between 1073 and 1086, and Caradoc his about 1100.
This long-lost life by Caradoc, found in the Gotha MS. I. 81, is printed
in Analecta Bollaniana, vol. lx (1942), pp. 35-67, with an introduction
by Father P.
Grosjean. There are two interesting notices of "King" Arthur in Lifris.
See A.W. Wade-Evans, Welsh Christian Origins (1934), pp. 126-132;
LBS., vol. ii, pp. 14-42;
G.H. Doble, St Cadoc in Cornwalll and Brittany (1937); KSS., pp.
J. Barrett Davies in Blackfriars, vol. xxix (1948), pp. 121 seq.;
J.S.P. Tatlock, "Caradoc of Llancarfan" in Speculum, vol. xiii (1938),
For the influence of Cadoc in Ireland, see J. Ryan's Irish Monasticism
From Butler's Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, Edited, Revised,
and Supplemented by Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and
Donald Attwater, Christian Classics, a division of Thomas More
Publications, Allen, Texas. ISBN 0-87061-137
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