St Cadoc of Wales healing oil
St Cadoc was a 5th–6th-century Abbot of Llancarfan, Wales. It is a monastery famous as a centre of learning. Cadoc is credited with the establishment of many churches.
A large collection of his maxims and moral sayings were included in Volume III of the Myvyrian Archaiology. Also, he is listed in the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology under 21 September.
Cadoc began life under a cloud of violence. His father, Gwynllyw the Bearded, was one of the lesser kings of Wales. He wanted to propose to Princess Gwladys, daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog. Brychan turned away the envoys asking for Gwladys’ hand. However, wildly in love, Gwynllyw and Gwladys eloped from her father’s court at Brecon. They escaped over the mountains in a raid in which 200 of Gwynllyw’s 300 followers perished.
It is said, Cadoc worked miracles even before his birth. Strange lights shone in his parents’ house. Also, the cellars miraculously filled with food.
Cadoc joins Tathan
Cadoc was born in Monmouthshire around the year 497. An angel announced his birth and summoned the hermit Meuthi to baptise and teach him. And a holy well sprang up for his baptism. Afterwards it flowed with wine and milk. It is thought that he was baptised as Cathmail. After the birth of his son, Gwynllyw went on a wild celebratory raid with a new band of fearless warriors. Among other livestock, he stole the cow of an Irish monk, St. Tathan. This is probably a reputed early abbot of nearby Caerwent.
Tathan was not afraid of Gwynllyw and boldly went to confront him, demanding the return of the cow. On a sudden impulse, or perhaps guided by divine inspiration, Gwynllyw decided Cadoc would go to live under the monk’s care. Subsequently, he was sent away to be educated at Tathan’s monastery in Caerwent. Cadoc picked up a basic knowledge of Latin and received a rudimentary education that prepared him for further studies in Ireland and Wales. Most important, Cadoc learned to appreciate the life of a monk and a priest.
Symbol of the wild boar
One day while in the Cardiff district of Glamorganshire, Cadoc chased by an armed swineherd from an enemy tribe. As he ran through the woods looking for a place to hide, he came upon a wild boar, white with age. Disturbed by his presence, the boar made three fierce bounds in his direction, but Cadoc’s life spared when the boar miraculously disappeared. Nonetheless, Cadoc took this as a heavenly sign, and marked the spot with three tree branches. The valley owned by his uncle, King Pawl of Penychen. Subsequently, he made a present of the land to his nephew. The location later became the site of the great church college and monastery at Llancarvan.
In adulthood Cadoc refused to take charge of his father’s army, “preferring to fight for Christ”. He founded his first monastery at Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan. From there he went to Ireland to study for three years. Returning to Wales, he studied with Bachan or Pachan, from Italy. Also, he travelled to Scotland where he founded a monastery at Cambuslang. Back at Llancarfan, his influence helped it to grow into one of the chief monasteries in South Wales.
One tradition has it that he went on pilgrimage to Rome. However, more certain is the knowledge of time spent in Brittany. He settled there on an island in the Etel river, now called L’Ile de Cado There he built an oratory, founded a monastery and devoted himself to spreading the Gospel. There are many chapels dedicated to him in the area. His name is also the basis of some thirty Breton place-names.