Celtic St. Cadfan of Wales 1st November 2016

St. Cadfan of Wales, Abbot
(Catamanu, Catman)


St Cadfan’s church, Llangadfan Believed to have been built in the 15th century (although the heavily rendered walls make dating difficult), the original church is said to have been founded by St Cadfan, a Breton missionary who became the first abbot of the monastery on Bardsey Island in c.604.


Stone lychgate, St Cadfan’s church, Llangadfan An unusual early 19thC stone lychgate in this ancient churchyard.

One of many saints celebrated on this day, see  All Saints Day in Celtic Christianity for the reasons why the Celtic Christians did not celebrate this feast on 1st November.

Saint Cadfan (Latin: Catamanus), sometimes Anglicized as Gideon, was the 6th century founder-abbot of Tywyn (whose church is dedicated to him) and Bardsey, both in Gwynedd, Wales. He was said to have received the island of Bardsey from Saint Einion Frenin, king of Llŷn, around 516 and to have served as its abbot until 542.[1]

Contents – Wikipedia

Also from Celtic and Old English Saints

Died probably at Bardsey in the early 6th century. A missionary from Letavia (probably in Brittany but possibly in south-eastern Wales) to Wales, Cadfan founded monasteries at Towyn in Merionethshire and Llangadfan in Montgomeryshire, and later a monastic centre on the island of Bardsey (Ynys Enlli), where he was first abbot. Bardsey developed into a great centre of monasticism. It is said that as he went from Towyn to Llangadfan he passed through Pistyll Gadfan, Eisteddfa Gadfa, and Llwbyr Gadfan.

Bardsey Island is still a wild, isolated place – exactly the kind of spot to which the Celtic monks liked to retreat. The first monastery here was founded by St Cadfan in 429. Today’s remains are 13th century and are of the Augustinian abbey of St Mary, built on the site of the original monastery. In time Bardsey became one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in Britain and many went there to be buried so as to be close to the numerous ascetic saints who died there. In time it became known as “The Island of 20,000 Saints.” Human bones were so common that they were used to mend fences!

Cadfan’s holy well could be found in the churchyard at Towyn, near his chapel (since destroyed), where many were cured of rheumatism, scrofula, and skin diseases. It continued to attract pilgrims long after the Reformation. Baths and changing-rooms were added until it went into disuse about 1894.

In the church at Towyn, there is a stone pillar, called the Cadfan stone, with an ancient inscription that marks the place of his burial:

“Beneath a similar mound lies Cadfan,
sad it should enclose the praise of the earth.
May he rest without blemish.”

A Cadfan also has an active cultus in Finistere and Cotes du Nord, Brittany. While it is generally held that this is the same Cadfan (the reason for thinking that he was a Breton), there are still problems in making the connection between the two. The question may never be settled. The Breton Cadfan is the patron of a church at Poullan, near Douarnenez. (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).


  • Celtic and Old English Saints – 1 November . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 1 November . [ONLINE] Available at: http://celticsaints.org/2016/1101a.html. [Accessed 01 November 2016].
  •  Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The Book of Saints: A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church Extracted from the Roman and Other Martyrologies.
    NY: Macmillan.
  • Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints.
    NY: Doubleday Image
  • Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
    Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wikipedia. 2016. Saint Cadfan – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Cadfan. [Accessed 01 November 2016].