Earlier today a group of 72 parishioners from St. Teilo’s parish, Whitchurch went on pilgrimage with their new parish priest, Fr. William Isaac, to the tomb of their patron St. Teilo. Traditionally, the feast of St. Teilo is kept on the 9th February, but as it falls on a Sunday this year, the parish marked the occasion with today’s visit.
St. Teilo was known to be a contemporary of St. David and the Fourth Bishop of Llandaff, succeeding his mentor St. Dyfrig. Like his contemporaries he was known for travelling throughout South Wales and even as far as Brittany spreading the Gospel and establishing religious foundations among the Celtic peoples. He established a church in Llandaff itself, where the now Llandaff Cathedral stands which houses his tomb.
Llandaff Cathedral is only a few minutes away from the parish of St. Teilo’s in Whitchurch, so the community decided to pay a visit to their patron and seek his intercession. Starting with the usual Saturday morning Mass, the pilgrims made the short journey to Llandaff in cars and assembled at the stone cross outside the cathedral. Fr. Isaac then gave them a brief history of their patron and the history of the church before the pilgrims were lead in a moment of prayer by Deacon Michael Doyle from the neighbouring St. Dyfrig’s, Treforest.
On entering the cathedral, the group assembled in the Lady Chapel and were greeted by Canon Graham Holocombe who gave them a talk on the history of Llandaff Cathedral. Fr. Isaac then lead them in a service praying for the well-being of their parish and their time together as priest and people. The pilgrims were then taken to individually visit the relic of St. Teilo that can be viewed by prior arrangement.
The relic itself is part of the skull of the saint that has been turned into a cup. This serves as a reminder of the legends that when the skull was removed from it’s original shrine following an attempted sacking of the church in 1409. It was given to a wealthy family (the Mathew) to be custodians. The skull remained with the Mathew family until 1658 when it came into the possession of the Melchior family who owned a farm in Llandeilo. A few hundred yards from the farm was St. Teilo’s well. The water was said to be particularly effective in the treatment of chest complaints and it was doubly so if it was drunk out of the skull. The descendants of the Mathew family re-obtained the skull in 1927 and added precious metalwork to it, giving it the form of a cup given the legend. It was this relic the pilgrims were able to approach.
The morning concluded with the parishioners going to the tomb of the saint where the rest of his remains are kept before making their way home. At the request of the parishioners they are due to return to the relic and tomb for their patronal feast next year, where the cathedral authorities have said they may be able to celebrate Mass.