Nantlle Valley History



The Church of Saint Rhedyw

Founded in the Fourth Century A.D. - it is one of the oldest churches in Wales.

Llanllyfni Church is dedicated to Saint Rhedyw - or Rhedicus in Latin, fl. 316 A.D. No early written history exists, but there is a strong tradition that either he was born in Arfon or that he founded the first Christian church here. At one point in his career he was a high official in the church at Augustodunum in Gaul (Autun in modern France). His feast day is 6th of July when Llanllyfni Fair is held each year.

Llanllyfni ChurchImage: The Church of Saint Rhedyw in Llanllyfni.

He was famous as a writer, and took a prominent part in denouncing the heresy of Arius of Alexandria in the early part of the fourth century. At this time, the Church in Gaul was flourishing under the patronage of Constantius and Helena, parents of the future Emperor Constantine the Great, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Ffynnon Rhedyw (Rhedyw's Well), near the present church, is likely to be an ancient pagan site rededicated by early Christians. A place called Tyddyn Rhedyw is close by. Not far away (near Nasareth) is Eisteddfa Rhedyw where the saint is said to have lived for some time and where his chair, his thumbprint and the hoofprint of his horse may be seen imprinted on the stone.

Some say that Saint Rhedyw was the father of Saint Garmon of Auxerre, hero of the celebrated Hallelujah Victory near Mold on Easter Sunday 430AD, where the heathens, fearing that they faced a great host, were put to flight by a small army led by Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus in Latin) and a large number of chanting monks led by Garmon (Germanus in Latin). Because more than a century separates the two monks, it would seem more likely that Garmon was "related" to Rhedyw through the monastic lineage of Gaul.

For many years, there was a single grave behind the altar about two feet above the floor called Rhedyw's Grave; but when the church was restored it was lowered, and now it is covered by the pews in front of the lectern. The chancel was expanded to its present size in 1032 according to the date found above the east window. But the other part is considerably older, possibly the oldest church in the country.

On the church facing the cemetery there was once a much-venerated image of Rhedyw which is thought to have disappeared at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century. Tradition maintains that the top of the stile was worn away by the knees of worshippers as they paid homage to the statue of the Saint before entering the church. This stone may now be seen set into the cemetery wall.

The Church of St Rhedyw

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