Orthodox Saints of the Pre-Schism See of Rome
ACHERIC of VOSGES and WILLIAM of VOSGES, hermits at an unknown monastery in the Vosges mountains near the present-day French-German border. SS. Acheric and William reposed circa A. D. 860, nothing further is known of their lives.
CLETHER (CLEDOG, CLYDOG, CLODOCK, CLEODIUS) of CLODOCK, little is known about St. Clether. He is said to have been a Welsh hermit, martyred in Herefordshire, England, where the village of Clodock is named for him. An unrelated St. Clether is commemorated on 23rd October.
CRISTIOLUS, A brother of St. Silin (29th July), St. Cristiolus is remembered as the founder of churches in Pembrokeshire and Anglesey in Wales.
DOMNUS of VIENNE, the extremely limited information on the life of St. Domnus, is from St. Ado of Vienne's martyrology written close to two hundred years after St. Domnus' repose. According to St. Ado, St. Domnus was the successor of St. Desiderius the Martyr (11th February) as Archbishop of Vienne, who, during his episcopacy was known for his holiness of life, and care for the poor. St. Domnus is particularly remembered for his dedication to ransoming the captives of the numerous wars of his era. He reposed towards the middle of the seventh century. St. Domnus' feast has been removed from the post-1914 editions of the Roman Martyrology, and is no longer observed, even in his former See.
ELERIUS (ELERI, ELWY), (Sixth Century), the co-founder and Abbot of the men’s section of the double monastery at Gwytherin, near the source of the River Elwy. The monastery, in present-day Conwy County Borough, Clwyd, Wales, takes its name from him. The authorship of a manuscript presently in the British Museum, considered to be the original Life of St. Gwenfrewi (vide infra) has been attributed to St. Elerius.
ENGLATIUS (ENGLAT, TANGLEN), no details of the life of St. Englatius are known. Adam King’s Kalendar, the Menologium Scoticum, and the Kalendar of David Camerarius all list him as a bishop at Tarves (Aberdeenshire, north-eastern Scotland), where the parish church of St. Englat commemorates him. Forbes’ Kalendar concurs and makes reference to St. Taglen’s Well in Tarves as well. St. Englatius reposed in 966.
FLORUS (FLOUR) of LODÈVE, since the 14th century, the local tradition has been that St. Florus, was a disciple of the Apostle Peter (29th June) and first Bishop of Lodève (Hérault, southern France). St. Florus evangelised the surrounding area and reposed circa 389 at what is now the village of Saint-Flour, 145km / 90mi north of Lodève. Whilst there is no question historically, that a See of Lodève has existed since circa 421, the first reliably documented bishop is Maternus, who attended the Council of Agde in 506.
GAUDIOSUS of TARAZONA, a disciple of St. Victorian of Asana (12th January) at Asan in the Aragonese Pyrenees (Spain). St. Gaudiosus was consecrated Bishop of Tarazona (northern Spain) circa 565 and reposed circa 585.
GUÉNHAËL (GUENHAEL), the son of a Breton chieftain who was educated by St. Winwalöe of Landévennec (3rd March). After his studies, St. Guénhaël received monastic tonsure at what became the Abbey of St. Winwalöe (abbaye Saint-Guénolé de Landévennec) in Landévennec, Brittany (north-western France), later serving as its abbot. St. Guénhaël's repose is dated anywhere from 530 and 580, with circa 550 most common.
GWENFREWI (WINEFRITH, WINIFRED), (Seventh Century), the patron saint of north Wales, St. Gwenfrewi was a descendant of the early Welsh kings of Powys, and the niece on her mother’s side of St. Beuno of Clynnog Fawr (21st April). St. Gwenfrewi became a disciple of her uncle at an early age, living near the chapel he built on land donated by St. Gwenfrewi’s father, where present-day Holywell (Treffynnon) is. As St. Gwenfrewi grew, so did her desire to enter monastic life. One Sunday morning a prince by the name of Caradog ab Alog passed by her house and stopped to ask for some water. Caradog was struck by St. Gwenfrewi’s extraordinary beauty and he immediately proposed marriage to her. St. Gwenfrewi’s resolve to receive monastic tonsure remained unswerving, and she declined. The prince then attempted to kidnap her; she managed to break free and run towards the chapel where St. Beuno was serving the Divine Liturgy. Caradog, on horseback, soon caught up with her and, furious at her refusal, beheaded St. Gwenfrewi. According to legend Caradog fell dead immediately, though some sources say that Caradog was killed by St. Gwenfrewi’s brother, Owain, in revenge.
St. Gwenfrewi’s head rolled down a hill to the churchyard. By this time, the church had emptied, and the congregants looked on in horror. At the spot where St. Gwenfrewi’s head came to rest, tradition says a spring of water sprang forth.
This was the genesis of her holy well, though there are sources which claim that there are records of a well in existence at that location since Roman times. St. Beuno picked up St. Gwenfrewi’s head, replaced it on her body, and prayed that God might restore her to life.
St. Gwenfrewi’s life restored, she sat with her uncle upon the rock that came to be known as St. Bueno’s Rock. St. Beuno told her that the petitions of those seeking assistance through her prayers at that spot would be granted.
There have been many miracles attributed to the waters of St. Gwenfrewi’s holy well, even before her repose, and it became known as the Lourdes of Wales. Holywell in Flintshire takes its name from this holy well, and it is one of the few sites mentioned by name in the mediaeval poem “Sir Gwain and the Green Knight”. Though the exact history will probably never be known, the shrine to St. Gwenfrewi remains vital and is the only British pilgrimage site to have remained in use without interruption for over 1300 years.
Following these events, St. Gwenfrewi’s parents blessed her to receive monastic tonsure. St. Beuno tonsured her and advised her to remain at the chapel he had built for her. She followed this obedience, and, in time, St. Gwenfrewi attracted eleven disciples.
At some point St. Gwenfrewi made a pilgrimage to Rome, where the coenobitic life of the monastics made a great impression on her. Upon her return to Wales, St. Gwenfrewi called what came to be known as the “Synod of Gwenfrewi” which monastics from Wales, Dumnonia, and the north attended. At that time, most monastics in Wales lived as anchorites; at this synod, it was agreed that the coenobitic life of St. Gwenfrewi and her disciples was preferable, if only from a standpoint of safety.
St. Gwenfrewi spent the next seven years traveling around Wales and assisting in the establishment of other coenobitic communities. Initially she met with great resistance to this novel ‘innovation’ and it was not until she reached her mother’s cousin, St. Elerius (vide supra), in Gwytherin (Clwyd, Wales) that she found someone receptive to the idea. St. Elerius immediately presented St. Gwenfrewi to his mother, Tenoi, and together they founded the double monastery of Gwytherin; Tenoi served as its first Abbess. In time, St. Gwenfrewi succeeded Tenoi as Abbess.
St. Gwenfrewi reposed on 3rd November 660 she was buried at Gwytherin; in 1138, her relics were translated to the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul in Shrewsbury, Shropshire and enshrined in great splendour. The shrine became a major pilgrimage site but was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England and Wales (1536–1540) by Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland, (r. 1509–1547).
Troparion of St. Gwenfrewi (Winifred) — Tone VIII
Caradog's anger struck off thy head, O pious Gwenfrewi/
but by the prayers of the Wonderworker Beuno thy mutilated form was miraculously made whole and restored to life./
As thou didst dedicate thy life to God's service in thanksgiving for His abundant mercy,/
pray that we, never forgetting His mercy towards us,/
may live only for Him that our souls may be saved.
HERMENGAUDIUS (ERMENGOL) of URGELL, Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia (north-eastern Spain) from 1010 until his repose in 1035. Amongst other things, St. Hermengaudius is credited with having the Cathedral in Urgell constructed. However, information on his life beyond serving as Bishop of Urgell is of questionable veracity.
HUBERT of LIÈGE, a courtier of Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, Pepin of Herstal (†714), St. Hubert lived a life of debauchery and hedonism. While hunting one day, he had a conversion experience which led St. Hubert to renounce his past and he became a disciple of St. Lambert of Maastricht (17th September) at the Princely Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy (Fürstabtei Stablo-Malmedy) in present-day southern Belgium. St. Hubert succeeded St. Lambert as Bishop of Tongeren and Maastricht (south-eastern Netherlands) in 709, following the latter's martyrdom. St. Hubert reposed in 727.
PAPULIUS (PAPOUL), a fellow worker of St. Saturninus of Toulouse (29th November) in the evangelisation of Toulouse (southern France). St. Papulius was martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution (303–313).
PIRMIN, a native of South Aragon in present-day Spain, most likely of Visigoth ancestry. St. Pirmin fled to the Rhineland during the Saracen invasion of his homeland in 711. He established and restored several monasteries in the region, and authored the Dicta abbatis Pirminii, de singulis libris canonicis scarapsus (Words of Abbot Pirminius, extracts from the Single Canonical Books)—a collection of quotations from Church Fathers and scriptures. It is also possible St. Pirmin was consecrated a missionary bishop, though there is no direct evidence. Towards the end of his life, St. Pirmin retired to Hornbach Abbey (present-day Pirmasens, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany), where he reposed in 753.
RUMWOLD of BUCKINGHAM, the primary source of information on St. Rumwold is an eleventh-century hagiography, Vita Sancti Rumwoldi. According to the Vita, St. Rumwold was born in 662 at Walton Grounds near King’s Sutton in Northamptonshire and lived for just three days. Though St. Rumwold’s parents are not named in the Vita his mother is described as a devout Christian who refused to consummate the marriage until her pagan husband converted to Christianity.
St. Rumwold is said to have been full of Christian piety, miraculously possessing the ability to speak from the moment of his birth, immediately crying out: “Christianus sum, christianus sum, christianus sum” (“I am a Christian, I am a Christian, I am a Christian”). He asked to be baptised and named “Rumwold” on his first day of life; delivered a sermon on Christian virtues and the Trinity on his second day; and then predicted his early death, asking that his body be buried in Buckingham on his third day and final day on this earth.
The parish church at King’s Sutton claims that St. Rumwold may well have been baptised in its font, which dates from Saxon or Norman times. There are holy wells associated with St. Rumwold at Astrop, just east of King’s Sutton, as well as at Bracklet, Northamptonshire; and Buckingham, where his relics were enshrined, these places, especially the well at Buckingham, were important pilgrimage sites until the Reformation. It is believed that St. Rumwold’s shrine and tomb were demolished when the old Buckingham church collapsed in 1776. Recently a memorial was erected to St. Rumwold which is inscribed “Near this spot within the old church of Buckingham was the tomb and shrine of the infant Saint Rumwold who lived and died c.650 AD”. His holy well at Buckingham has survived, and thanks to the work of a local group has been partially restored. English Heritage formally scheduled the well as an ancient monument in 1999.
Though Rumwold is the most common contemporary form of spelling his name, variations (Rumwold, Rumoalde, Rumwald, Runwald, Rumbald, Rumbold, Romwold, Rombout) has at times led to some confusion with St. Rumbold of Mechelen in Flanders who reposed c.775 and whose feast is kept on 24th June.
In 2000, the Englishman Rumwold Leigh composed a complete Orthodox Christian service to St. Rumwold, available on Fr. Andrew Phillips’ Orthodox England website.
Troparion of St. Rumwold — Tone IV
Great is thy confession, O holy infant,
and great as our wonder is our praise of thee.
Glorious is thine utterance, O giver of wisdom,
and glorious the Spirit from Whom thy wisdom hath come down.
O Holy Rumwold, intercede with Christ God,
that He might save the souls that He hath made.
A Prayer to St. Rumwold
Teach us to know thee, O wondrous saint, who restest with the righteous in the Kingdom of God. Teach us to understand the grace with which thou wast endowed. Teach us to celebrate thy three days of life, the glory of thy speech, the boldness of thy confession. Teach us to venerate thy memory. Teach us to unite with the Saviour, preserve our purity and wholly to live in Him. Teach us to be, as thou art, a living confession of the glory of God, in word, thought and deed, indivisibly. Teach us that all things are possible with God. Teach us, O Rumwold, that we truly exist only in the Lord. Thee do we beseech to pray for us, that the Lord send down His Holy Spirit upon us, and call us to Himself in His heavenly mansions. For to Him do we send up all glory, honour, and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
THE INNUMERABLE MARTYRS of SARAGOSSA, an incalculable number of martyrs at Saragossa in Hispania Tarraconensis (present-day north-eastern Spain) who suffered during the Diocletianic Persecution (303–313). The Prefect of the province, Dacian, ordered that all Christians must leave the city, as they were leaving the martyrs were met by soldiers who proceeded to kill them all. A group of eighteen of them, whose names are known to us, are honoured separately on 16th April.
SYLVIA of ROME, the mother of St. Gregory the Dialogist (3rd September), and sister of SS. Tarsilla (24th December) and Aemiliana (5th January). Following the repose of her husband, St. Sylvia lived the rest of her life as an anchoress, reposing circa 572.
VALENTINE and HILARY, a priest and his deacon who were beheaded at Viterbo near Rome during the Diocletianic Persecution (303–313).
VALENTINIAN, a late fifth century Bishop of Salerno (south-western Italy). St. Valentinian reposed circa 500. No further information is extant.
WULGANUS (VULGANIUS), a native of the British Isles, who emigrated to Artois (present-day Pas-de-Calais, France). There he worked tirelessly to enlighten the pagans of the region. St. Vulganius reposed circa 704 in Arras. A pious tradition is that St. Vulganius was buried at Christ Church, Canterbury, England. However, there is no evidence to support this tradition, though until the Reformation his Feast was observed at Canterbury.
Prior to the Schism the Patriarchate of Rome was Orthodox, and fully in communion with the Orthodox Church. As Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco +1966 said “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable Liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.
In many cases there are several spelling versions of the names of saints from the British Isles. I use the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography version as the primary version with the more prevalent version in parenthesis e.g. Ceadda (Chad) of Lichfield.