Peace Mala Pilgrimage to Saint David’s Forgotten Monastery

Pam Evans
Llangyfelach 12th Century Norman Tower built within the Celtic Graveyard
Llangyfelach 12th Century Norman Tower
built within the Celtic Graveyard

Everyone who lives in Wales is aware of Saint David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, which is claimed to stand on the site of the monastery he founded. How many people I wonder, are aware that Saint David also founded a monastery in Llangyfelach which is about four miles north of the centre of Swansea and just west of Morriston?

The church and early monastic community of Llangyfelach is shrouded in mystery. People, who drive through the present village or pass below the hill on the M4 motorway, are usually totally unaware of the great historical significance of this place.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Llangyfelach church is not the magnificent freestanding Norman tower, but the graveyard which is circular in shape. This more than anything else indicates its Celtic origin and suggests the area where Saint David probably founded his monastery, making it the site of one of the earliest Christian settlements in Wales.

On Thursday 9th May 2013, Ascension Day in the Christian calendar, the Peace Mala educational project for world peace organised a one day pilgrimage to Llangyfelach.

Bishop John with Pam Evans and Choje Lama Rabsang in the peace garden at Peace Mala HQ Morriston
Bishop John with Pam Evans and Choje Lama Rabsang in the
peace garden at Peace Mala HQ Morriston

Pilgrims, including school children from local Peace Mala Schools (Hafod Primary Swansea, Christ Church Primary Swansea, Penllergaer Primary Swansea, Catwg Primary Neath and Saint John Lloyd Catholic Comprehensive Llanelli), along with representatives of several world faiths joined Bishop John of Swansea and Brecon in the first pilgrimage of its kind to Llangyfelach since ancient times.

Pilgrims walked from two directions. Some started from the peace garden in Penllergaer Primary School, on to Saint David’s Church Penllergaer, through the woods and eventually to Llangyfelach. Others, including the bishop, many faith representatives and pupils of Hafod Primary School, met in the peace garden at Peace Mala HQ in Morriston where the blessed light from Saint David’s shrine was re-lit and peace votives for the pilgrimage were blessed.

Pilgrims in procession through Morriston
Pilgrims in procession through Morriston

Pilgrims then processed through the town to St David’s Church and on to Llangyfelach where a service for world peace was held at 1pm at the church of St David and Cyfelach. School children from local Peace Mala schools contributed with songs, dance and peace prayers.

Bishop John emphasised to everyone present the importance of forgiveness and active compassion in our daily lives.

Three white doves were released by representatives of the Abrahamic faiths along with prayers for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.

Bishop John with some of the pupils, faith representatives, Keith Broadbent MBE Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan, and Mayor of Neath Port Talbot County Council, Cllr Martyn Peters
Bishop John with some of the pupils, faith representatives,
Keith Broadbent MBE Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan,
and Mayor of Neath Port Talbot County Council, Cllr Martyn Peters

Keith Broadbent MBE Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan who was present at the world peace service commented,

“I have never experienced anything like it – entirely in a positive way. I loved the involvement of the children and the representation of so many faiths, and how comfortable we all were in the presence of each other”.

Faiths and spiritual traditions who joined the pilgrimage and took part in the service were Orthodox Judaism, The Greek Orthodox Church, The Anglican Church in Wales, The Catholic Church, Islam, Hinduism, Kagyu Tibetan Buddhism, Baha’i Community, Yungdrung Bon Pre-Buddhist Tradition of Tibet, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Irish Order of Ancient Druids, Gwyddon Earth Religion of Wales and the Wayfinders Association of Modern Wizardry.

This is what Bishop John has to say about Peace Mala:

“Underlying many of the world’s religions is a profound respect for the dignity and value of each individual human being, and the simple aspiration that human beings should treat others as they would wish others to treat them.

Sadly, both that dignity and value as well as that aspiration are frequently damaged and even trampled, by selfishness, prejudice, intolerance and plain disregard.

Peace Mala has, from the outset, sought to uphold human dignity and human value and has sought to promote the kind of tolerance which will ultimately lead to a world where peace and justice triumph over less attractive elements.

It gives me enormous pleasure to commend all that Peace Mala represents and all that it seeks to achieve for the good of the world and of its people.”

The Right Reverend John D E Davies
Diocese of Swansea and Brecon

Slideshow of photos from the day

 

Peace Mala Pilgrimage film 2013