Living at Whitland, the Community at Holy Cross Abbey is very aware of the ancient ties of faith and culture in this corner of West Wales. Consequently, from time to time, the Community goes on pilgrimage to visit places with which we have particular associations.
The Cloistered Life: Monasticism in Carmarthenshire & West Wales
Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society
Cymdeithas Hynafiaethau Sir Gaerfyrddin
M. Christine Wood is presenting a paper on Saturday 18 February 2012
Day School at Halliwell Theatre University of Wales Trinity St David Carmarthen Campus
In the summer of 2007 we visited the ruins of the Cistercian monastery of Strata Florida, founded from Whitland Abbey in 1164. With its elegant west doorway, fine C14th floor tiles and magnificent natural backdrop, it is an evocative site. Here we sang the Midday Office of Sext. We concluded with the "Salve Regina", which we usually sing at the end of each monastic day and when a sister is dying. We sang it in memory of the many monks who lived and died in this place before the Reformation. And there were many, for Strata Florida flourished as a house under royal patronage and it is the last resting place of many princes of the ancient kingship of Deheubarth.
Hywel Dda Centre and Gardens, Whitland
In July 2008 we were invited to visit the Hywel Dda Centre and Gardens here in Whitland. The Centre provides an interpretative commentary on the code of laws known as the "Law of Hywel", which was codified under the leadership of King Hywel in the C10th and was the law administered in Wales until the Act of Union in 1536.
Using imaginatively designed gardens and pavements, together with brilliantly coloured illuminated texts, the visitor is offered a wonderful insight into contemporary thinking on the administration of law here in Wales, with a more humane slant on justice for felons and the rights of women. An illumination ideed when compared with Ango-Saxon England over the border: no wonder the King was named Hywel the Good. The display had recently been expanded to include facsimiles of Peniarth 28, a C13th book held in the National Library at Aberystwyth. It is thought that the manuscript may have been prepared in the Scriptorium at Whitland Abbey, hence our invitation.
Also in the summer of 2008 the Community were invited to join Bishop Daniel Mullins, Emeritus Bishop of Menevia to celebrate Mass in the recently re-constructed medieval church of Saint Teilo at Saint Fagan's National Museum in Cardiff. The church was originally built on marshy land near the crossing of the river Llwchwr. Hoever, during the Industrial Revolution the town of Pontarddulais developed and a new church dedicated to Saint Teilo was built and the older church abandoned. In 1982 the Church of Wales offered the abandoned church to Saint Fagan's for removal to its present site for restoration. The transformation is amazing, with new hand-carved rood screen, wall paintings and a new bell. We sang a Latin Mass - Missa de Angelis - and concluded, as we had at Strata Florida with the "Salve Regina", as would the medieval pilgrims, who prayed at the little church on the Llwchwr crossing, en route to Whitland Abbey and Saint David's.