The Fellowship of Life
St. Melangell and her Celtic Christianity
by Pastor James Thompson
Originally published in the Summer 1998 edition of the Christians Against All Animal Abuse newsletter
I love Wales, for it is not only the land of song and beauty; it is
also the land of ancient Celtic churches (Llans!) Yes, and of their
saints who loved and were in tune with animals and the rest of nature.
One such saint was Melangell (pronounced Me-larn-gegh), who was a
young virgin, having decided to dedicate her love to God.
One day, within the Tyddyn valley and two miles from what is now the
village of Llangynog (church of Cynog) Melangell - witnessed that which
has made her famous.
While communing with the rest of nature and supplicating to God,
hounds rushed towards her in pursuit of a hare that had sought refuge
beneath her skirt.
The hunts man who followed, complete with horn in hand, commanded the
hounds to attack but the young maiden bid them to resist.
The legend then states that the hounds refused to seek the frightened
hare and, what is more, the hunting horn became stuck temporarily to the
The Prince of the region, who then closely followed - on witnessing
the scene and the holiness of Melangell - gave the very valley itself to
the young virgin, so that she could establish a holy retreat house and
sanctuary for man and beast, on the spot.
The Sanctuary today reverberates with peace and sanctity. The
hallowed church contains the saint's relics and its surroundings are now
a haven for wild life.
What is more, a day hospice is now situated there for, primarily,
terminally ill people. Yet though they are considered mostly terminal,
wonderful healings occur as well as increased life span.
The treatments offered are much akin to the Bristol Cancer Centre,
with treatments given that are humane and caring with reverence for all
The wonderful lady cleric who established this along with her
deceased husband, has no time for any treatment that is at the cost of
cruelty to our lesser brothers and sisters. And in the very hospice
itself, mosaiced in stone, is the outline and shape of a hare.
I ask: is it any wonder that Divine intervention is felt in such a
hallowed setting? These Celtic saints had an affinity with animals and
the rest of creation which - sad to say - Latin Christianity destroyed,
once it rejected the teachings of its' Francis of Assisi for that of
its' 'Diabolic Doctor': Thomas Aquinas.
Returning from this scene of pilgrimage Doreen and I past through the
village of Llangynog nearby.
What a delight it was to see the picture of Melangell swaying in the
breeze, as the sign of a local inn.
There, at her feet was a hare. And the words were 'Melangell Wynne
Bach', meaning: Little, pure (white) Melangell.
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