Saturday, 2 May 2009

Pennant Melangell

The church dedicated to St. Melangell lies in a remote and beautiful spot at the head of the Tanat Valley. It is set in a circular churchyard, possibly once a Bronze Age burial site, ringed by some of the country’s finest ancient yews which may also predate the Christian era. In its location and atmosphere it typifies the special qualities of a Welsh country church.
The first church on the site is said to have been founded in the 7th Century by Melangell, the daughter of an Irish king, who dwelt here as a hermit. One day the Prince of Powys came hunting, and a hare took refuge under Melangell’s cloak. The Prince’s dogs fled howling and, deeply impressed, he gave her the valley as a sanctuary. Ever since Pennant Melangell has been a place of pilgrimage.
There has been a Christian Church here for over 1200 years. Its setting, in a place of great beauty deep in the Berwyn Mountains, is peaceful and unspoilt. Parts of the building date from the 12th Century though the most recent, a rebuilding of the apse on its original foundations, was completed only in 1990. The church contains a fine 15th Century oak screen with carvings that tell the story of Saint Melangell and Prince Brochwel.
The church’s greatest treasure is the 12th Century shrine of Saint Melangell, containing the bones of the saint. This was dismantled after the Reformation and its stones, carved with a strange blend of Romanesque and Celtic motifs, were built into the walls of the church and lych-gate. They were reassembled in the last century and have now been re-erected in the chancel. It is unparalleled in Northern Europe and is visited by pilgrims from all over Britain and beyond. The feastday of Saint Melangell is 27th May.

Holy Mother Melangell, pray to God for us.