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the shrine of our lady of penrhys

the shrine of our lady of penrhys

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the shrine of our lady of penrhys

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  1. the shrine of our lady of penrhys

  2. A goodly place it is with its summits and wooded slope, and the Virgin sanctuary beside the deep forest. There is her image enthroned; There is pardon to be gained; There in the glade of the Five Joys of Mary. (Llywelyn ap Hywel, 15th century)

  3. On the verge of the mount there’s an image in Penrhys Which there awaits you: the Virgin Maiden Mary. Gwilym Tew , Ode to Our Lady of Penrhys, 15th century

  4. The poet Rhisiart ap Rhys (1480-1520) made a pilgrimage to Penrhys. He was so inspired by his experience that he encouraged his fellow countrymen to do the same. He re-tells how the multitudes gathered on the mountain top; the penitential vigil of two nights, and of the popularity of summer and especially the Feast of the Assumption as the time for the great pilgrimage. At the summit of the rock, a rippling stream: Any disease which seeks it, there is healed White wine runs in streamlets, That can quell pains and fatigue. Many a one who had there bowed down Thou didst heal of his dumbness. The diseases of the multitude Who call upon thee, after their weeping Are healed upon the second night. The image of Mary is no less efficacious Than Mary of Heaven to heal.

  5. The Rhondda

  6. Once an isolated rural area with thick woods of oak, the Rhondda, thanks to the Industrial revolution, soon became a centre of Industrial life, as mines were opened in search of coal…

  7. Now quieter it still retains its tremendous spirit…

  8. Standing on Penrhys mountain is a vestige of its medieval past… It reminds us of the time when people came to the Rhondda, not in search of coal but for something more profound….. an experience that inspired poets to write and pilgrims to travel, old and young, ordinary men and women, whose steps were laden with prayer and the search for peace…

  9. the shrine of our lady of penrhys The history of the shrine is clouded in legend and tales…

  10. the shrine of our lady of penrhys In 1179 the Cistercian monks founded an Abbey at Llantarnam…

  11. …In 1205, Llantarnam Abbey and Margam Abbey agreed on a boundary between the two monasteries, which meant that Penrhys was within the boundary of Llantarnam, some 25 miles away. The monks built a grange there, enabling them to care for their land and sheep in the outer regions of their property

  12. The original complex of buildings also included a hostelry maintained by the monks for the pilgrims, and possibly a grange farm house. These would have included all the traditional outbuildings - bakehouse, brewhouse, malthouse, barns and stables.

  13. ‘There verily is her image from heaven ... When this honour was obtained, they said a miracle was found of old in the woods. She, gentle maid, would not be taken up from her shrine of oak-trunk’ Lewis Morgannwg The statue was thought to have been “immovable from the oak tree until a Shrine chapel had been erected” on top of Penrhys Mountain, just above the Holy Well. The chapel was to “house” the statue for the increasing number of pilgrims who came to pray and celebrate Mass. Tradition has it that an image of Mary was discovered in an oak tree and as news spread, crowds of ordinary men and women flocked from far and wide to pray for help and health, and to praise God.

  14. Like many shrines and holy places there was also a well that was reputed to have miraculous properties…

  15. ’The mountain’s brow is the place where most frequently great Mary’s miracles are precious ... The simple ones have had a baptism. Let the blind believe that he shall see day; let the cripples come into the choir, a goodly band’

  16. The well house is rectangular, 14 feet long, 10 feet wide, with a small doorway, a bath and a niche, probably for a statue of Our Lady. With the increased interest in the Holy Well, a trough was made outside of the well house for collecting water. Lady Mary, thou Virgin, Child bear, Nun-like, Mary, thou wert before his birth Virgin Mother, title beyond compare. And Virgin Still, Mistress of heav’n and earth, In Heav’n abbess-like thou liv’st bright, Reigning with Him, the Judge who did select Thee Queen to rule the land which knows no night Right worthy choice of His, a choice full right. (Iolo Goch)

  17. In 1936, the District Council restored the small building which contained the Holy Well.

  18. Field names that survived and recorded in the tithe survey of 1840, enable us to reconstruct the ritual geography of the site. The site of the chapel was in a field called Y Fynwent, ‘the graveyard’. The adjoining field was Cae’r Eglwys, ‘Church Field’. Other indicative place names were Cae Tyla Capel, ‘the field of the slope of the chapel’, on the hill between chapel and well, and Erw Porth, ‘gate acre’, possibly the site of the entrance to the chapel precinct. Cae gwar yr heol, ‘the field on the shoulder of the road’, indicated the top of the steep trackway to the valley bottom before the modern road was built.

  19. Excavations in 1913 and 1946-7 located a building which was almost certainly the chapel. A little of its stonework still survives above ground, built into the wall of the car park by the modern statue.

  20. This building had buttresses and a stone cross wall which has been interpreted as the foundation of a narrow chancel arch. It was rebuilt, probably in the fifteenth century, and the cross wall removed and replaced by a timber screen.

  21. The present image of Our Lady of Penrhys now stands over the place where the chapel once housed the original image

  22. The Destruction of the Shrine The Sixteenth century saw the destruction of many shrines throughout the land and Penrhys was no exception…

  23. In June 1538 a letter from Latimer to Thomas Cromwell, the vicar general of Henry VIII, stated that he was most anxious that the Shrine at Penrhys be destroyed. “I trust Your Lordship will bestow our great Sibyl (Our Lady of Worcester) to some good purpose, that her memory might perish with joy. She hath been the devil’s instrument to bring many, I fear, to eternal fire: now she herself with her old sister of Walsingham, her younger sister of Ipswich, with her two other sisters of Doncaster and Penrhys would make a jolly muster in Smithfield… It was to mark the end of the great age of popular faith and piety in Wales. The Shrine was desecrated and destroyed, and the statue was confiscated on 14th September, 1538. They would not be all day in burning.”

  24. Though the Shrine was utterly destroyed, it is recorded by William Llewellyn, writing in 1862, that in the previous twenty years, there were accounts of people making pilgrimages to the top of Penrhys Mountain. Stowe’s Chronicle relates: “The images of Our Lady of Walsingham and Ipswich were brought up to London, with all the jewels that hung about them, and the divers other images both in England and Wales, whereunto any common pilgrimage was used, for avoiding of idolatry; all of which were burned at Chelsea by Thomas Cromwell. The farmlands that had been at Penrhys were given to Thomas Williams, a nephew of Thomas Cromwell.” In 1912 excavations were carried out at the site of Penrhys, giving details of the size of the grange, and the Shrine chapel. Fragments of glass, tiles and other objects were unearthed, and in the farmhouse nearby some of the timbers and purlins were judged to have belonged to the original monastic buildings.

  25. In recent decades Penrhys has perhaps become more famous for the seventies housing estate built on the mountain top…

  26. with its inherent problems and mixed reputation… now a thing of the past…

  27. The Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael McGrath (1940-1961) furthered the modern popularity of the Shrine. He was anxious to purchase the land on the top of Penrhys Mountain for the Catholic Church in Wales It would mean that modern day pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady would, once again, have somewhere to visit…

  28. The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Penrhys

  29. Destroyed by the Reformation of the sixteenth century neglected by generations of Christians the shrine remains as a permanent reminder of God’s love for us and a modern place of pilgrimage for Christians today…

  30. Lady Mary, thou Virgin, Child bear, Nun-like, Mary, thou wert before his birth Virgin Mother, title beyond compare. And Virgin Still, Mistress of heav’n and earth, In Heav’n abbess-like thou liv’st bright, Reigning with Him, the Judge who did select Thee Queen to rule the land which knows no night Right worthy choice of His, a choice full right. (Iolo Goch)

  31. Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen