S. DEWI (David) of Mynyvt (St. David’s), now patron saint of the Welsh, was also associated with the Church of Northern Alba. The competition for primacy which raged in the Roman Catholic period between Caerleon, St. David’s, and Llandaff has left its taint in every surviving version of S. Dewi’s Life. Every form of interested fable has been devised to vitiate the life-story of this Celtic bishop. Even his birth and death have been ante-dated; and the places where he grew up or ministered have been misrepresented almost out of recognition. The date of his death requires to be taken from the Irish annals; because they were not affected by the particular pens that corrupted the history of S. Dewi’s mission. According to the Chronicum Scotorum. He was born early in the sixth century, and was ordained a monastic bishop c.540. S.Dewi died A.D. 589.
S. Kentigern or Mungo visited him about 567. Maelgon or Maelgwyn, who was a Celtic pagan, was elected to the sovereignty of the Britons c. 560; If and when S. Dewi died, Maelgon requested that the saint should be buried in his own Church at Menevia. These dates recall S. Dewi’s name from the fabulists, and set it in sober history. Although in Scotland there is now only the bare tradition that S. Dewi himself undertook missionary work in northern Alba; there is a statement in one of his biographies that his disciples at “Mynyv” went forth to preach and to teach both in Ireland and in Alba. The best-remembered of these disciples both in Pictland of Alba and in Ireland is ‘Maidoc,’ more formally known as S. Aidan of Ferns in Wexford (c. 555-625).The Breviary of Aberdeen calls him ‘Modoc,’ which corresponds to the Pembrokeshire form of his name, Modog, with the honorific prefix. His Church-sites in Alba were, among the Britons, at Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, and among the Picts at ‘Kilmadock,’ Doune, and at Kenmore, Perthshire.
This last site was formerly known as ‘Innis Aidhan.’ At Weem, in the same district, was an old church-foundation associated with the name of S. Dewi, whose Feil was formerly celebrated here. The name ‘ Weem’ is itself ecclesiastical, and suggests a cave-retreat such as SS. Ninian and Servanus used; and such a retreat appears to have existed. S. Dewi is moreover linked to Alba through his education and training. This is seen from the following basic facts in S. Dewi’s life taken from the ancient Celtic Life, and, incidentally, perverted or misinterpreted by Ricemarc, Giraldus,- and others. S.Dewi was the son of ‘Non,’ which, by the way, is the same name, without the diminutive, that was borne by S. Ninian the Great. This Non was a chief who became a cleric; because his Church-foundations, called ‘Llan-Non,’ stood beside the older and later Churches of S.Dewi in the counties of Cardigan and Pembroke.
The celibate fabulists of the mediaeval Roman Catholic period were so offended by the emergence in a saintly biography of this clerical parent that they invented a fictitious father, to whom they gave the name ‘Sanctus.’ They then transferred his father’s name to his mother, modifying it to ‘Nonna,’ which they interpreted as Monacha; and they represented that the Churches called Llan-Non were the Churches of the mother, who, they pretended, became a nun. Married clerics were not uncommon throughout the history of the Celtic Church. If they entered a religious community after marriage they were not allowed to correspond with their wives. Angus the Culdee and other writers frequently emphasize the distinction of the clerics who were ‘Virgins.’ Writers in the middle ages, misled by this appellation, frequently represent men as women-saints.
Dewi went, in his childhood, for some slight teaching and a blessing to Paul Hên, that is, Paul the Aged.At this time Paul was sightless and frail; but the most venerated cleric among the Britons, He is, as we have seen, the same Paul the Briton whose name, with the diminutives of honour and endearment, takes the forms ‘Peulan‘ among the later Welsh, ‘Polan‘ among the Irish Picts, ‘Pâldoc‘in Perthshire, and ‘Pâldy’ in the, Mearns. The Scottish fabulists confused Palladius with him, as has been noted. Paul the aged was the living link between S. Ninian the Great and S. David. He had taken part in the missions sent from Candida Casa into Pictland of Alba. When he organized and settled his own chief community on the Tav in Caermarthen, a.d. 480, he named it Candida Casa, or, in the vernacular, Ty Gwyn ; and it became one of the many ‘White Houses’ named after S, Ninian’s Candida Casa, just as the latter had been named after the original White-Hut of the master S. Martin, the ‘ Louko-teiac’ at Poictiers.
Paul the Briton continued to visit and to sustain some of the communities which he had organized in his early manhood, at a time of life when most men retire from strenuous work. He was about seventy years of age when he organized his best-known community at Ty Gwyn ar Dav; but he at once handed over the care of the new ‘ family ‘ to Flewyn ap Ithel, a continental Celt from ‘Civitatibus Armoricis,’ because of his Churches and Communities elsewhere, to which he was required to minister. His untiring vitality accounts for the range of his Church-foundations from the territories of the Britons to the territories of the Picts of Alba, where SS. Servanus, Mailoc, Dewi, Maidoc, and other Britons, or British-trained missionaries, laboured in his day and afterwards. His foundations are found in the straths of the Lyon, the Tay, and the Earn. On the Lyon is Beinn na Mhanach, the monk’s mountain, and Ruighe Phâl’oc, or, as locally pronounced, Ruighe Phâldoc, and interpreted as Paul’s shieling-site, that is, where his casula stood. One of the little waterfalls on a burn flowing into the Lyon was “Eas Phdldoc” and, what is more significant, another was Eas ‘Inian, that is, S. Ninian’s waterfall or water. In the Den of Moness at Aberfeldy on Tay was Cathair Phdroc, which in Gaelic is correctly translated by the present natives as’Cajtail Phdldoc'” It indicates the site of Paul’s or PcLldoc’s muinntir, which, like the early Celtic religious settlements, was fortified.When we find Christianity established in this district at this period, we can understand how the presence of S. Columba, the Gaidheal, on his political missions was resented in the locality, and can comprehend Dalian’s boast that the Saint required ‘to shut the mouths of the fierce ones at Tay.’
At Dunning, one of the foundations of the historic S. Servanus or Serf, the Briton, on the Burn of Dunning, was S. Paldoc’s Linn, where the local tradition is maintained that there S. Servanus or Serf baptized the converts.Adult baptism, of course, and historically more correct than the stories of infant baptism at this period which the fabulists give. Incidentally, therefore, it is revealed in a flash, through the light from the Welsh annalists and the testimony of the face of Scotland, that the bishop who made the historical Servanus his ‘ assistant ‘ at Dunning and elsewhere was neither the mythical ‘ Palladius’ of John of Fordun and Hector Boece, nor the historical Palladius whom Prosper of Aquitaine states that the Roman bishop Celestine sent on an unsuccessful mission to the Irish; but, as we have seen, Paul Hen, the Briton, Ab and bishop, founder, among other ^\a.c&s,oi Candida Casa, on Tav in Caermarthen, first teacher of S. Dewi ( David of Wales), continuator of S. N inian’s work in Pictland, whose name, given according to the various languages or dialects, is, as we have already noted, ‘Pawl Hên,’ ‘Peulan Hên,’ ‘Paldy,’ ‘ Paldoc,’ and ‘ Paul the Aged.’ He is also described as ‘ Fanau,’ that is, native of Manau, now Mannan. The old province name is preserved in ‘ Slamannan. ‘ The English fabulists who make him a disciple of Germanus are not far behind the Scotic and other fabulists.
In the Litany of Dunkeld and in the list of early Celtic Abbots and Bishops the name of the unhistorical ‘ Palladius’has been put in the placeof Paul the Aged, that is, between S. Ninian and S. Serf. It cannot however be other than evident that ‘ Pildy’ of the Mearns or ,’ Pildoc’ of Perthshire is not different from the name of Paul the Briton, with the Britonnic suffixof endearment ocand the af of euphony. When S. Dewi (David) was a boy sojourning with Paul the Aged in the early years of the sixth century, the venerable saint was unable to see him with his failing eyes, which fact gives opportunity to the fabulists to interpolate a miracle in which the boy Dewi revives his teacher’s sight so that he is able to look ‘once upon his pupil.’ After spending some time with Paul the Aged, Dewi set out for the monastery, ‘Rosnat.’ It is now known, what S. Dewi’s mediaeval biographers did not know, that ‘Rosnat’ was the name given by the Irish to Isle of Whithorn in Galloway, where S. Ninian’s community was established. The name has been already explained as Ros-Nan(t), the promontory or Headland of Ninian, otherwise the ‘Isle-head’ at Isle of Whithorn. The Irish also knew, as their annalists state, that ‘the other name’ for the monastery of Rosnat was ‘A /da or White.’ But Dewi’s biographers make quite clear, although they did not know it, that the Rosnat to which Dewi went was Candida Casa; because they state that Dewi’s father was warned in a dream at Cardigan to send an offering of honey, fish,and the dressed carcass of a stag to the ‘monastery of Manchan’ on behalf of his son.
Now ‘ Manchan,’ the Little Monk, was the surname of Nennio, who was ‘Master’ at Candida Casa in the early part of the sixth century when Dewi went there. Among the pupils of Nennio or ‘Manchan’ at Candida Casa was the much venerated S. Endeus or Eany,and many others already noticed. He is believed to have died on the 2ist of March 540. It is further confirmed that Candida Casa was the school for which S. Dewi set out, and also that the mediaeval biographers possessed this information accurately, although they could not interpret- it; because one of them states that the place to which S. Dewi made his way was ‘the Isle of Whiteland.’ This is of course Isle of Whithorn. In their geographical ignorance, some of the mediaevalists proceeded from blunder to blunder. They decided, in order to get themselves out of the maze, that ‘ Rosnat ‘ must mean S . Dewi’s own monastery in ‘the hollow’ at S. David’s, Pembroke, the only site connected with S. David of which they had apparently heard ; and they suggested that this hollow had borne of yore the name ‘Ros-nant,’ which, in course, they varied to ‘Ros-dela,’ interpreting this ‘Vale of Roses.’All this is characteristic mediaeval nonsense ; the only good which came out of it was the preservation of the correct form ‘Ros-Nan(t)’ for the headland of S. Ninian, Isle of Whithorn.
Moreover, when S. Dewi did set out to organize a Community of his own, he did not settle at once at S. David’s, Pembroke. He went first to a place which one of the saint’s biographers gives as ‘Vetus Mynyv! This is Old Mynyv, still ‘ Hin Fenyv,’ near Aberaeron in Cardigan, four miles from which is a Church bearing S, David’s father’s name, ‘Llan-Non.’ Another place at which S. Dewi was during his training at Candida Casa was ‘Glaston,’ close to Whithorn, and the site where S. Ninian’s cave-retreat was and is. The fabulists treat this as Glastonbury of Somerset, and construct elaborate myths in which S. Dewi is made to reside at Glastonbury, and, among other things, to dedicate there a Church to the ‘Virgin Mary.’ The facts are that, in spite of the multiplied fables of this religious house, there was no organized community at Glastonbury in S. Dewi’s time; nor did the Britons dedicate their Churches at this period to the Virgin Mary or to any other saint. The fabulists also represent S. Dewi as a monarchic bishop and ‘primus’; he was in fact an Ab and bishop of the Celtic type, presiding over a missionary muinntirMvhxch had branch organizations throughout the territories of the Britons and Brito-Pictish tribes. This is fully confirmed by a note in an old transcript of the laws of Hwyl Dha, which conveys that S. Dewi organized ‘twelve’ muinntirs in the Brito-Pictish territories, and those among the Demetae were exempt from the king’s tax.