Dedicated to St David Lewis

Dedicated to St David Lewis
The Great Saviour of the world, save every soul of you all. I believe you are met here, not only to see a fellow countryman die, but also with the expectation to hear a fellow countryman speak…Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief; but as a Christian, and, therefore, I am not ashamed. (Last Words of St David Lewis 27.August 2011

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

St Triac (Llandyfriog) Malpas, Clunaic Benedictines and the Nuns of Monmouthshire

The Ancient priory of St Mary the Virgin, formerly St Triac (aka Brioc) , now St Mary's Anglican Parish Church,  I was very kindly shown around last week by a lively group of flower arrangers. The interior of the priory church has no specifically Catholic features left,  it has been extensively renovated inside and it  will shortly gain a modern  extension to the church. However the arches and windows seem to be in the original Norman Style and are very ancient and lovingly restored. The Church is very colourful indeed, and seems to be really well cared for by the congregation.
              In 2009, I wrote a post in the series of Benedictine Houses in Gwent and wrote about the later history of  St Triac (Brioc's) Clunaic (Strict Benedictine) Priories. More interesting still is the fact that it was a house of the Abbey of Monte Acuta (now 'Montacute House') and appeared in various records. read the old post below.

In 1132 Charter of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, confirming the gift of Malpas Village and church to Montacute Priory. It also refers to Novo Burgo (Newport)  (-one of the earliest references to the existence of the town as a "New Borough")     See: Robert B. Patterson 'Earldom of Gloucester Charters' 1973. No.156 page 146.

It would seem, therefore that the present priory church, built on the former llan island of St Triac was actually begun after this time to accommodate the monks of Montacute Abbey, It seems the monks of Montacute were to serve the chapel and administer the lands and tithes for the abbey. This may seem grasping by the monks, but in fact,stone buildings such as these are very expensive to maintain and did need a financial input-just as much as today. The congregation therefore supported its church regularly and also supported with oblations or offerings for special prayers.   What was there before was probably a small stone church of Saxon or more probably early British mud and wattles, or even wood.  The Monks of Montacute were from Cluny, a French house, now demolished. However the same pattern for the abbey used, was that of Worcester Cathedral-also a former Abbey) There is more information on the link above about the later history of the Priory, until it was seized by Henry VIII agents.

In 1239 MALPAS there was an agreement between the abbot and convent of Gloucester and the Prior and convent of Montacute and the Prior of Malpas....the abbbot and convent of St Peter's Gloucester or their assigns, should receive, peacably and fully, all the tithes of Mendelgif and of all things of old belonging to the church of Newport, without hindrance or annoyance.                                                      
Translated by James Conway Davies Episcopal Acts Relating to Welsh Dioceses 1066-1272 1948. Vol.II page 715.
Published in Latin by W.H. Hart Historia et Cartilarium Monasterii S. Petri Gloucestriæ 1863. Vol. II. No. DXXVII, pages 62-63.  

So it seems from this time, that St Peter's Abbey Gloucester was entitled to oversight of all the tithes belonging to St Triac's as the agents seized the monies owed to the priories
Priory.I am grateful to Bob Trett who has researched this information, as it enhances the former post, although it seems by the time the Priory was seized, it was at least still collecting the tithes of Mendelgieff,  and the it is mentioned in the accounts,

Saint Triac

St Triac was also known as St Brioc or St Briavel (Briomagl) or St Brieux in Brittany. It is a difficulty that there was no standard spelling of British, and Latinisation to Triacus did not help nor a Welsh version (Dyfriac). He was not from Gwent but spent time here.
Triac was born in Ceredigion around 440AD
St Germain Bishop of Auxerre leaves Ireland to establish schools for theIrish missions and is given Triac to train.450AD, so only ten years old.St German also ordained Patrick (aka Succatus) as priest and later consecrated him Bishop of Ireland
 .St German was hugely important in Gwent and Glamorgan during this early British Cambrian period in preaching against the heretSt Germain was hugely
454AD St German  re-founded Caer-wogorn and then departed with his pupils to Paris.
465 AD Returned to Ireland  Brioc also received priests apostolic ordination
by Bishop Germanus and returns to Wales.
important in Gwent and Glamorgan in preaching against the Pelagian heresy of Morgan of Caerleon-on-Usk, before St David’s great mission against the false teaching some time later.

The llan (in some ways following the Druidic usage of ‘Circle of Heaven’or ‘Gwynfyd’) signified the Trinity for the Christian brothers who followed them. The holy ground was carefully prepared . Marking out the site, clearing it, exorcising the local well for baptism and water source and then forty days of fasting and prayer on the site, before the church was built , usually of wood or mud and wattles. Outside was the ‘World’, its wickedness and evil. In the heart of the llan was the church, and inside this was the throbbing heart of Christ, reserved in the Eucharist in the tabernacle at the altar. This very much followed the practice of the Desert monks and followers of St Augustine of Hippo, whose followers in later times were so active in the poor Augustinian Friars, who nursed so much of Mediaeval Newport through the plague and the Augustinian Canons of Llanthony, The Faithful often wished to be buried under the church, as close as possible to Christ.
530AD He is recorded to have visited the court of King Childebert and has the grants made by Rhigual confirmed. He returned to Britanny and then died. The Body of St Triac was translated on July 23 1166 in the presence of Henry II of England and William, Bishop of Angers, where it had been taken in the tenth century, on account of the attacks of Vikings in the North of Brittany.
The only other surviving monasteries of St Triac (aka Brioc) are at Llandyfriog in Ceredigion (Rees gives Tyfriog (House of Brioc/Triac) ap Dingad-indicating that St Dingat was the father of Triacus (the Latin form of Brioc)Approximate date of the death of St Illtyd was 537AD.
There is also a Church dedicated to him in Cornwall-St Brioc near Wadebridge (I have posted on this church also)

In iconography, he is see an abbot's robes, sometimes with a wolf at his feet.

 On returning to his monastery at Saint Brieux St Triac,he found his nephew Tudwal in possession and unwilling to receive him (ingratitude!) He goes on to the land of Rouvre.
The Nuns of Saint Brieux
Interestingly in 1900 when the religious orders in France had all their religious schools closed, it was nuns from Saint Brieux, The Daughters of the Holy Ghost,  who were invited and sponsored by Lady Llanover to come to Monmouthshire-Monmouth, Brecon, AbergavennyUsk and Pontypool, where they remained for over a century and a half, teaching and working with the many poor Irish children , who lived in the area of Pontypool, who had most need of their services. The ancient Hanbury Family provided their former home for the school, which is now called St Alban’s Catholic School.
In their acceptance letter to Lady Llanover, they wrote that just as the great Evangelist Triac /Brioc had brought the gospel and worked for it in that area of Armorica, they were happy to return the favour. The Catholic church had only been allowed to restore the hierarchy around 1850 and the whole church needed rebuilding after two centuries of vicious persecution. It was grateful for the willing participation of such religious orders.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all your prayerful work. My name is Stephan Jenkins. I am a new Catholic and an associate of the Franciscans of the Renewal. Margaret my wife is an Anglican as yet. We are much in prayer for Monmouth and its History and have a little to share. We are praying about setting up a retreat centre there with a link to the Catholic Cistercian roots. E mail dovecot67@ Please get in touch so we can send particular information about Grace Dieu. Posted on the day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who bore him in our heart who had us in his heart. Steaphan and Margaret