Dwynwen Major shrine St Dwynwen's Church
Feast January 25 Patronage Lovers in Wales
Dwynwen is believed to have been a daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog, who lived in the 5th century. Dwynwen lived in Anglesey, and her name is still recalled in place names such as Llanddwyn and Porthddwyn.
In the tale told of her, Dwynwen falls in love with a young man named Maelon, but rejects his advances. Stories differ substantially on the events that follow but the outcome remains the same. Either she is raped by Maelon and prays for assistance, or she is unable to marry him due to her father's refusal and prays to forget her love for him. An angel provides her with a potion. Maelon drinks it and turns into ice. Dwynwen then prays for three requests (either given as a result of drinking the potion, or prayed for when she sees what happens to Maelon). These three requests are that Maelon be released; that, through her, God look after all true lovers; and that she remain unmarried. She then retreats to the solitude of Llanddwyn Island off the west coast of Anglesey to become a hermit until she dies, in about AD 460.
Her church at Llanddwyn became an important shrine during the Middle Ages. The holy well became a site of pilgrimage, at which the movement of fish within its waters was believed to indicate lovers' destinies.
Saint Dwynwen's day, Dydd Santes Dwynwen, is celebrated on January 25. Seen as something of a "Welsh Valentine's Day", from the 1960s it has increased in popularity as a day when cards are sent and events such as concerts or parties are held.
- ^ Farmer, D.H., (1978) The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- ^ FAQ on St Dwynwen from the Museum of Welsh Life, accessed 31 October 2011
- Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen - St. Dwynwen's Day
- St Fagans National History Museum page on St Dwynwen's Day
- Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol programme notes on St Dwynwen’s Festival
- Dudley programme notes on the history of Santes Dwynwen
- Celebrating Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen with your loved one
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