Saint Cybi, Abbot of Cornwall and Wales +550

Saint Cybi the tawny and Saint Seiriol the fair


“The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints” (Saint Arsenios of Paros †1877)

Today the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates:
Saint Cybi Felyn, Abbot of Cornwall and Wales
(c. AD 483-555)
Feast Day Nov 5/18

Prince Cybi the Tawny was born around AD 485 in the Callington region of Cornwall. He had a fine education and took a keen interest in Christianity even in his youth. At the age of 27, he made pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem and eventually became a priest, being consecrated bishop by the Bishop of Poitiers. On returning home, he found that his father, King Salom, had died and he was nominally the monarch of his country. But Saint Cybi had set his heart on a life dedicated to God and so, when he was formally offered the Cornish throne, he politely refused and Cornwall once more became united with Dumnonia.

Saint Cybi then began to travel the Celtic World. He founded churches at Duloe, Tregony, Cubert and Landulph in Cornwall. He later crossed the Bristol Channel to Edeligion in South-East Wales, with several followers (including Saint Cyngar of Llangefni). The local King, Edelig, did not welcome them at first. Eventually, however, the monarch was brought round and gave the Cornishman two churches at Llangybi-upon-Usk and Llanddyfrwyr-yn-Edeligion. Cybi then moved on to Ireland (staying with his cousin, St. Dewi (David) at Mynyw (St. Davids) en route). He settled on the Island of Aran Mor where the Irish came to know him as St. Mo-Chop. After Aran, Cybi and his followers moved to Meath and then Mochop, but each time they were hounded by a local presbyter. So, Cybi sailed for Wales once more.

Saint Cybi landed on the Lleyn Peninsula and lived for a while at Llangibi near Pwllheli. Here the local King, Maelgwn Gwynedd, came across him while out hunting a certain goat. Saint Cybi used his kindness to pacify the King’s anger at finding an unapproved Christian community in his kingdom, and even persuaded him to give the saint one of his palaces, at what became Caer-Gybi on Ynys-Gybi. Saint Cybi and his followers settled here and established a thriving monastery. The Cornishman became a firm friend of Saint Seiriol who lived on the opposite side of Ynys Mon (Anglesey), and the two would often meet up for prayers at the Clorach Wells in Llandyfrydog in the center of the island. This journey, with his face to the sun, allowed Saint Cybi to nurture a tan. Hence his epithet of ‘Felyn’.

Saint Cybi attended the Synod of Llandewi Brefi in AD 545, where his advice was sought by a number of priests hoping to make a pilgrimage to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). The men were worried about Saxon pirates, but the saint persuaded them that if their faith was strong enough they had nothing to fear (how very timely). While in Dyfed, Saint Cybi founded the Church of Llangybi near Lampeter. He died on 5th November AD 555 and was buried on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey).


St. Seiriol Gwyn
(Born c.AD 494)

Saint Seiriol the Fair was a younger brother of Kings Cynlas of Rhos and Einion of Lleyn. He entered the religious life and lived in a small hermitage on the Eastern Peninsula of Ynys Mon (Anglesey). His two ruling brothers later decided this humble residence was far too lowly for their Royal brother and founded an important monastery around his cell. Thus, Seiriol became the first Abbot of Penmon Priory. His hermitage and holy-well can still be seen there today.

Saint Seiriol became a very good friend of Saint Cybi who lived at Caer-Gybi on Ynys Cybi (Holy Island) on the far side of Ynys Mon (Anglesey). The two would often walk several miles to meet up for prayers at the Clorach Wells in Llandyfrydog in the center of the island. This journey with his back to the sun allowed Saint Seiriol’s complexion to remain so fair that he was given the epithet of “Gwyn”.

When Saint Seiriol was of old age, he retired to Ynys Lannog (Priestholm), just off the coast from Penmon. It became known as Ynys Seiriol in his honour, though it is now better known as Puffin Island.

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