Welcome to St Catwg's Church, Pentyrch.
St Catwg and Christianity in Pentyrch
Written evidence can trace Christianity in Pentyrch back at least to 1128, and to the first record of its having a resident priest in 1147, when “Eniauun, Presbyter de Pantirech” witnessed a document recording a grant made to “Brother Meiler and the brethren of Pendar” (Margam Abbey).
However, the history of Christianity within Pentyrch dates to the years of Catwg often called Cadoc or Cadog in the early years of the 6th century, when Catwg, then Abbot of the monastery at Llancarfan, or one of his followers, set up a cell in Pentyrch. In the Celtic Church, the name given to the church, normally built of wood or daub and wattle, was that of the monk who settled there. The fact that the spring just below the church is named “Ffynnon Catwg” and that this runs into a little stream called “Nant Gwladys” (Gwladys was the name of Catwg’s mother) strongly suggests that it was Catwg himself who sojourned there. Holy wells figure frequently in the lives of Welsh Saints and it is, perhaps, significant that the well adjacent to the church environs (the spring rises out of a garage just down the road from the church) is named after Catwg
So who was Catwg?
St Cadog Ddoeth, Cadog the Wise, was one of the greatest of the Welsh Saints. He was the eldest son of King Gwynllyw Farog (the Bearded) of Gwynllwg and his wife Gwladys, born at Gwynllwg in Brochriwcarn in Gelligaer around 497 and baptised “Cadfael” by the Irish Saint Tathyw. At a young age he was sent away to be educated by the saint at his monastery in Caerwent (the Roman civil town of Venta Silurum). He left to become a wandering hermit, founded his famous monastery at Llancarfan, where he stayed for several years caring for the local population, before leaving for Ireland to study under Carthagh at Saighir. He returned to Wales, where he learned Latin at Llanspyddid near Y-Gaer in Brycheiniog. His teacher was Bachan, known today as St Ffagan. His time there links him to one of the stories that abound about him, when, during a severe drought, a mouse led him to a secret store of grain (see our pulpit).
Cadog travelled extensively, as holy men did in those troubled, early times and was involved in many violent scrapes. He spent time in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, on Barry Island, at Cerniw (Cornwall), where tradition has it that he struck the ground three times with his staff and a well sprang up, and Harlyn near Padstow. He visited Brittany where he settled on the Ile de St Cado in the Sea of Belz, and also lived as a hermit in the Bay of Morbihan near Vannes. There are churches dedicated to him at Belz, Locoal-Mendon in Morbihan and at Gouesnac’h in Finistere. Throughout Brittany he is recognised as the patron of the deaf, and at the church on Ile de St Cado there is a healing stone, claimed to be Cado’s bed, where people touch the stone with their ears and pray for restoration of their hearing: the stone has worn away where so many heads have touched it over the years. In 2008, as part of our celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the rebuilding of the church, a party of 40 parishioners visited Ile de St Cado to see the church and to leave momentoes of our church. Unfortunately, there was no one to meet us, even though a meeting was arranged, and there has been no contact since. On the wall of this tiny, yet beautiful church, is the inscription: “Cado, Prince de Glamorgan”. His name is the basis of some thirty Breton place-names. He also visited Rome and Jerusalem.
Around AD 564, he journeyed to Beneventum on the northern edge of Saxon territory, (probably near Daventry in Northamptonshire) where he was killed in AD 580 when the city he was rebuilding with the local population was overrun, probably by Saxons, and he was killed with a spear. Some years later his body was returned to Llancarfan where he now lies buried. His memorial may have found its way to Llandefaelog Fach, where a now lost stone was once seen inscribed with the name “Catvc”.