Ethelgiva and Deiniol

Saints of the day

Please see my post from earlier this month – “Family Tree, Holy Tree”- for a fuller explanation of my little project here this month of intending to post info on each of the many historical saints in my genealogical family tree whose feast days fall in the month of December.  I honour the saints and holy persons of all religious and spiritual traditions. But for this month I thought I’d try to list those in the Christian tradition from whom I’m directly or co-laterally descended (ancestral grandparents and ancestral aunts & uncles) on one or both sides of my parents’ family lines.

Saint Ethelgiva (Æthelgifu) of Shaftesbury (-896), generation 37 aunt
Princess of Wessex (West Saxons), England; founding abbess of Shaftesbury Abbey; daughter of King Saint Alfred the Great and Queen Saint Ealhswith (Elswith, Ethelwitha). Yes, I know: who knew that Alfred the Great and his wife are both revered as saints? But they are. Do they deserve to be? I don’t know. For now I’ll give them the benefit of the possible doubt….Their daughter Ethelgiva, celebrated each year on this day, seems to have been a deeply holy person.

[Link below: a recent article about scientists’ hopes for finding ancestral grandfather King Saint Alfred the Great’s grave:

Saint Deiniol Gwyn (Welsh: Deiniol; Latin: Dainiolus; English: Daniel) ( – 584) generation 46 uncle
First abbot-bishop of Bangor, Wales; founded monasteries at Bangor Fawr (modern Bangor on the Menai Straits) and Bangor-Is-y-Coed (Bangor Iscoed, modern Bangor-on-Dee). Bangor Iscoed became the most famous monastery in Britain, with over 2000 monks, before being sacked by a pagan King of Northumbria.

Deiniol was son and heir to King Saint Dunaut the Great (c505-c607), ruler of the Celtic Briton kingdom of the North Pennines, after whom it was re-named Dunoting. Dunaut was a son of King Saint Pabo Post Prydein the Confessor, ruler of Northern Britain and a descendant of Coel Hen Godebog (“Old King Cole”).

St Deiniol chose the life of a monk and priest over that of a prince, perhaps inspired by his grandfather who had become a hermit monk after being driven from his kingdom by enemy armies in 460. Deiniol settled on the Menai Straits, where his relative, King Maelgwn of Gwynedd gave him lands in Bangor Fawr to establish a monastic cathedral. He attended the Synod of Llandewi Brefi where he was consecrated Bishop of Bangor Fawr by St.David (Dewi), patron saint of Wales. He later founded churches at Llandeiniol in Dyfed and Llanfor and Llanuwchllyn near Lake Bala. He refounded his monastery at Bangor-Is-y-Coed (upon Dee) under the patronage of his uncle, King Brochfael Ysgythrog of Powys.

In time, Deiniol’s aged father King Saint Dunaut (Welsh: Dynod; Latin: Donatus; English: Donat) was also driven from his kingdom of Dunoting by Northern Angles, and became abbot of his son’s monastery at Bangor. As such, he attended the unsuccessful meetings of the Welsh bishops and abbots with St. Augustine of Canterbury at Aust (Glos) in 602 and 604.

St Deiniol, held during his life as comparable in status with St David and St Dyfig, died at Bangor Fawr on 11th September 584. His body was taken to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) to be buried. The Cathedral at Bangor Fawr remains dedicated to him.






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