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Saint Cadoc or Cadog (born about 497) , Abbot of Llancarfanmarker, was one of the 6th century Welsh saints, whose vita twice mentions King Arthur. The Abbey of Llancarfan, near Cowbridgemarker in Glamorganshiremarker, which he founded circa 518, became famous as a centre of learning. The prefix of his name means 'battle'.

Cadoc's story appears in a Vita Cadoci written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan; "it was clearly written at Llancarfan with the purpose of honoring the house and confirming its endowments," Consequently, it is of limited historical merit, but some details are of interest. He was a son of Gwynllyw (Latinized Gundleus), King of Gwynllwg in South Walesmarker, who was a brother of Saint Petrocmarker, but a robber chieftain who led a band of three hundred. His mother, Gwladys (Gladys) was the daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog who had been abducted in a raid, during which King Arthur acted as peacemaker. Cadoc's father later stole the cow of the Irish monk, St. Tathyw, and, when the monk came courageously to demand its return, the King decided in return to surrender his son to his care. Cadoc was raised at Caerwentmarker in Monmouthshire by Tathyw, who later became a hermit.

Cadoc's monastic houses

In adulthood, Cadoc refused to take charge of his father's army, preferring to fight for Christ instead. He proselytized over a large area of Walesmarker and Brittany. He built himself a hermitage at Llancarfanmarker (now in the south of Glamorganmarker): according to legend two stags came forward and Cadoc was able to yoke them to a cart to help with the building works. As a result, Cadoc is often pictured with a stag, and the current church at Llancarfan boasts a weathervane in the shape of one. Llancarfan soon grew into a monastery, one of the most important in Wales where many holy men were trained, until with the intruision of Norman power into South Wales, it was dissolved about 1086.. There was another foundation credited to Cadoc at Llanspyddid, three km west of Breconmarker, and he is credited with the establishment of churches in Dyfed, Cornwallmarker and Brittany. About 528, after his father's death, he is said to have built a stone monastery in Scotlandmarker below 'Mount Bannauc' (generally taken to be the hill southwest of Stirling down which the Bannockburnmarker flows). It has been suggested that the monastery was where the town of St Ninians now stands, two kilometers south of Stirling. Cadoc went on pilgrimages to both Jerusalem and Rome and was distressed that the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi was held during one of these absences.

Correction on location of monastery in Scotland

The location of St. Cadoc's church in Scotland is north-west of Stirling at Kilmadockmarker Parish, which was named for the saint. It is about 2 miles up the River Teith from Doune, where the Annant burn enters the river. Near the ruins of the old Kilmadock church and the graveyard is Hermit's Croft, thought to be the location where he lived for 7 years. There were 7 local churches that were built in the saint's honor, which came under the authority of the Inchmahomemarker Priory.

The local Scottish followers were known as Gille Dog, or servants of St. Cadog. These appear as surnames, first as Dog, and later as Doig, Dock, and Doak. Sir Thomas Dog was Prior of Inchamhome from 1469 to 1477.

Cadoc and the kings

The parish church of St Cadoc
St Catwg window in Caerphilly
He came into conflicts with king Arthur, who is mentioned twice in the vita, as great and bold but willful. The reference is of importance to those concerned with the historicity of Arthur as one of five insular and two Breton saints with claims to mention Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. The vita mentions a certain miraculous spot that had a healing effect until the time of king Hiuguel, after due to a malevolent influence the spot has been lost; Hiuguel is the Hywel vab weyn who died in his old age, ca 1041-44. The date of Lifris' Vita Cadoci, shortly before 1086, makes it a testimony of Arthur that is independent of Geoffrey of Monmouth's myth-making.

The kings Maelgwn of Gwyneddmarker and Rhain Dremrudd of Brycheiniog also feature in his vita. In later Arthurian developments, Cadoc, with Illtud, is one of the three knights said to have become keepers of the Holy Grail.

Other locations associated with the saint

Cadoc and Brittany

At one time, he apparently lived as a hermit with Saint Gildas on an island in the Bay of Morbihan, off Vannes in Brittany. There are chapels dedicated to him at Belzmarker and Locoal-Mendon in Morbihanmarker and at Gouesnac'h in Finistèremarker, where he is called upon to cure the deaf. His name is also the basis of some thirty Breton place-names.

Cadoc and Caerleon

At Caerleonmarker, a Roman centre of Monmouthshire, the much-rebuilt church dedicated to St Cadoc, though of Norman origin, stands on the foundations of the Roman legion headquarters, a sign of the Christianization of Roman sites after the legions departed Britannia. It may memorialize an early cell of Cadoc's, although an old tradition suggests that, in this case, Cadoc is a corruption of Cadfrod.

Cadoc and Beneventum

In an episode towards the end of his vita Cadoc is carried off in a cloud from Britannia (de terra Britannie) to Beneventummarker, where a certain prior is warned of the coming of a "western Briton" who is to be renamed Sophias; as Sophias Cadoc becomes abbot, bishop and martyr. A magna basilica was erected over his shrine, which visiting Britons were not allowed to enter. And a fictitious "Pope Alexander" is made to figure in the narrative. Tatlock points out that Alexander was an obscure second-century papal name until the accession of Pope Alexander II (1061) and that Beneventum in southern Italy became more prominent after it was traded to the papacy in 1051 and popes began to visit it regularly and councils were held there in 1087 and 1091; but Beneventum has been associated with the Roman town of Bannaventamarker (five kilometres east of Daventrymarker in Northamptonshiremarker) on the edge of Saxon territory in Britain. This latter hypothesis proposes that it was overrun by Saxons at this time, thus explaining both the killing of Cadoc and the prohibition on Britons entering the town to recover his body.

The genealogy of Cadoc

The genealogy of the blessed Cadoc arises from the most noble emperors of Rome, from the time of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Augustus Cesar, in whose time Christ was born, begat Octavianus, Octavianus begat Tiberius, Tiberius begat Caius, Caius begat Claudius, Claudius begat Vespasian, Vespasian begat Titus, Titus begat Domitian, Domitian begat Nero, under whom the apostles Peter and Paul suffered, Nero begat Trajan, Trajan begat Adrian, Adrian begat Antonius, Antonius begat Commodus, Commodus begat Meobus, Meobus begat Severus, Severus begat Antonius, Antonius begat Aucanus, Aucanus begat Aurelian, Aurelian begat Alexander, Alexander begat Maximus, Maximus begat Gordian, Gordian begat Philip, Philip begat Decius, Decius begat Gallus, Callus begat Valerian, Valerian begat Cleopatra, Cleopatra begat Aurelian, Aurelian begat Titus, Titus begat Probus, Probus begat Carosius,

Carosius begat Dioclesian, who perscuted the Christians throughout the whole world; for in his time the blessed martyrs Alban, that is Julian, Aaron, and many others suffered. Dioclesian begat Galerius, Galerius begat Constantine the Great the son of Helen, Constantine begat Con- stantius, Constantius begat Maximianus, with whom the British soldiers went from Britain, and he slew Gratian the Roman emperor, and held the government of all Europe; and he did not dismiss the soldiers, which he brought with him from Britain to return to their country on account of their bravery, but gave them many provinces and countries, that is from the pool which is on the top of the mountain of Jupiter to the city named Cantguic, and until the western mound that is Cruc Ochideint; and from those soldiers arose a nation which is called Lettau.1 Maximianus therefore begat Owain, Owain begat Nor, Nor begat Solor, Solor begat Glywys, Glywys begat Gwynlliw, Gwynlliw begat the most blessed Cadoc of whom we are speaking.

See also


  1. Strayner, Joseph R., ed. Dictionary of the Middle Ages (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983) p. 6
  2. In Welsh it would be Buchedd Cadog or 'Life of Cadoc'; the text is Latin, however; for confirmation of before ca 1086 as the most likely date for the text, see below.
  3. Tatlock, J. S. P. (1939) "The Dates of the Arthurian Saints' Legends", Speculum 14.3 (July 1939:345-365) p. 345
  4. The date was argued for by J. S. P. Tatlock, "Caradoc of Llancarfan," Speculum 13, 144-45.
  5. The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Perth, Vol. X, 1845, p. 1224; Doune Historical Notes, Forth Naturalist and Historian, Moray S. Mackay, Stirling, 1984, p. 72; Kilmadock in Dunblane Diocese, Society of Friends of Dunblane Cathedral, Moray S. Mackay, Vol. XI. Part III, 1972, p. 83-85.
  6. Discussed at length in Tatlock 1939.
  7. usque ad tempus Hiuguel regis, filii Ouguenii regis Morganensium (quoted in Tatlock 1939:346.
  8. "Certain innocent moderns, anxious to extract the uttermost farthing of historical truth from this yarn, have tried to identify 'Beneventana civitas' with some place in Britain," Tatlock observed and pointed out that the circular Lombard church in Beneventum was dedicated to Saint Sophias, "a scarce name among saints. The inference is obvious that some Welsh visitor to Benevento had found there some name or anecdote to excuse the attractive invention that Cadoc had been there and was Sofia." (Tatlock 1939:346).
  9. "Lives of the Cambro British saints",p. 378, 1853, Rev. William Jenkins Rees

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