Wales Patron Saint of Lovers – Dwynwen
Most of us are familiar with St. Valentine, but did you know that Wales has its own Patron Saint of Lovers?
Dwynwen was one of 24 children of the King of Wales, Brychan Brycheiniog of Brechon in the 5th Century. She fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, but they could not be together. The reason varies between stories- her father had already promised her to another Prince, she wanted to become a nun, or her father simply refused. Maelon grew bitter, and some stories say that he raped Dwynwen. She fled to the woods and prayed that she could forget him.
While sleeping, an angel brought her a potion. After she drank it, Maelon turned to ice. Dwynwen prayed to God for three wishes: that Maelon be thawed, that God would watch over true lovers, and that she would never marry and devote her life to God. The wishes were granted. She settled on Ynvs Llanddwyn, founded a convent, and became a nun.
The site of her church became a place of pilgrimage. Visitors would often leave offerings, making it the richest area during Tudor times. Her holy well, Ffynnon Dwynwen, was said to indicate lovers’ destinies. A woman would scatter breadcrumbs in the well and then lay her handkerchief on the surface. If the eels in the well disturbed the handkerchief, then her lover would be faithful. The ruins of the Llanddwyn chapel can still be seen today.
Saint Dwynwen was the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers and Sick Animals. Saint Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated on January 25th.