St Illtud

 

Born at the end of the 5th century (some say 497AD), cousin to King Arthur, son of a Breton prince, Illtud, like several others fathers of the church was a soldier before becoming a monk. He served his cousin, then King Poulentus of Glamorgan, before receiving his come-uppance at the hands of Cadoc, abbot of Llancarfen. He gave up his military career and studied under Cadoc before going on to found many churches in Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall and Wales. A biographer describes Illtud as 'of all the Britons the most accomplished in all the Scriptures, namely of the Old and New Testaments, and in those of philosophy of every kind, of geometry namely, and of rhetoric, grammar and arithmetic, and of all the theories of philosophy. And by birth he was a most wise magician, having knowledge of the future.’ It was good then that it was he who re-established the ancient college of 'Côr Tewdws', established in 295AD which became the monastic school of Llantwit Major, ultimately one of the most respected centres of Christian culture in the Celtic world. At its height it was drawing some 2000 students, including many princes and future leaders. It was eventually destroyed by the Vikings. The present day Norman church of Church is well worth a visit for its unique collection of Celtic crosses. To learn more, read here.

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