Lives of the Saints

A ffan glybv yr ysgymvnedic was i dremygv velly, tynv y kledde a orvc, a llaδ i ffenn. A ffan ddigwyddawδ penn y vorwyn i’r llawr, yn yr vn lle i tarddoδ ffynawn loywaf a thekaf ysyδ yn llithraw yn wastad ir hynny hyd heddiw, ac yn rroi iechyd i lawer o gleivion ir hyny hyd heddiw o wyrthiav y wenvydedic wyry.

And when the heinous man heard her belittling him in this manner, he took out his sword, and cut off her head. And when the virgin’s head fell to the floor, in the same spot the brightest and finest spring that ever there was burst forth, and this has flown continuously since then and still flows today healing many sick people via the miracles of the blessed virgin.

The Life of St Winifred, NLW Peniarth MS 27ii, second half of the fifteenth century

Well Chapel, Holywell, late fifteenth century. Photo: Martin Crampin

Welsh saints’ Lives or ‘bucheddau’ are prose hagiographical texts that recount the Lives of native Welsh saints, as well as the Lives of universal saints. They usually include all the traditions and legends associated with particular saints, especially their lineage, their miracles and their local connections (which are reflected in place-names all over Wales). Most of the native saints are purported to have lived during the fifth and sixth centuries; however, their Welsh Lives are only recorded in manuscripts from the fourteenth century onwards, such as ‘Buchedd Dewi’ (The Life of St David, illustrated above) and ‘Buchedd Gwenfrewy’ (The Life of St Winifred). The Lives of at least twenty-five universal saints were also adapted into Welsh from the thirteenth century onwards, such as the collection of saints’ Lives extant in Llanstephan MS 34. These ‘bucheddau’ are influenced by major Latin and Middle English hagiographical works.

Saints in Medieval Wales
Verses to the Saints
Genealogies of the Saints
Saints in Modern Times