Our parish, founded in 1925, was placed under the patronage of one of the great Welsh saints.
St. Teilo was probably born at Penally, near Tenby in Pembrokeshire around the year 500. Although there are conflicting reports about his early life, he was thought to be a cousin of our national patron Dewi Sant, St. David.
He received his education at institutions directed by saints, one being St. Dyfrig, who he succeeded as Bishop of Llandaff, founding the very first Church in Llandaff where the Cathedral stands today. He was also educated by Paulinus of Wales at a place thought to be Whitland in Carmarthenshire. Here he is thought to have met and became a close companion of St. David.
He travelled extensively, including to Brittany, Rome and Jerusalem and to St. David’s in north Pembrokeshire where David founded his monastery. Teilo founded monasteries in Llandeilo (the name of the town literally means ‘Church of St. Teilo’), the place with which which he is most associated, and at Penally. Penally Abbey was located on the pilgrims’ trail to St. David’s.
Legend has it that Teilo went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with Saints David and Padarn around the year 518. Three seats, one decorated ornately in gold, one of bronze and one of cedar, were erected in their honour in readiness for their ordination as bishops by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The legend has it that the humble Teilo chose the simple wooden seat.
A plague of Yellow Fever devastated parts of Wales in the year 547. Teilo and his followers fled firstly to Cornwall and then to Brittany where they were welcomed by St. Samson of Dol. It is thought that Teilo and Samson planted a grove of apple-bearing trees between Dol and Cai, where the apple groves are still known as the groves of Teilo and Samson and still bear fruit today.
At Landaul in Brittany, Teilo is considered the patron saint of apple trees and the town of Saint-Thélo in Brittany bears his name. At St. Teilo’s Church, one of the stained glass windows, installed as part of the church refurbishment in 2004-05, shows an apple tree in honour of St. Teilo (see picture above).
Teilo returned from Brittany to Llandeilo. He died on 9th February, most likely in the year 560. After his death he became one of the most venerated men in Wales. Several sites in Wales claim to house his remains. A tomb of St. Teilo is located in Llandaff Cathedral while a part of his skull is kept in the South Chapel.
St. Teilo, pray for us!
St. David, pray for us!
All the Saints of Wales, pray for us!