January 01, 2019

⛪ Saint Elvan & St. Mydwyn

⛪ Saint of the Day : January 1

Beda de Venerable († 735, festival 25 May) tells in the fourth chapter of his first book of his church history:

"In the year 156 since the Incarnation of Our Lord, Marcus Antoninus Verus became the fourteenth emperor of the Roman Empire since August, together with his brother Aurelius Commodus. During his reign, Saint Eleutherius led the Church of Rome. He sent a British king, Lucius, a letter asking if he could make him a Christian. Of course, this pious request was immediately answered. Thus the British received the Christian faith, and they kept it full of peace in all purity until the time of Emperor Diocletian. "

Emperor Antoninus Pius ruled from 138-161; he was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius (161-180); after him came Aurelius Commodus Augustus (180-192). Probably Beda has the latter in mind; all the more, because he indeed had a twin brother. 

Eleutherus was of Greek origin; he was probably elected pope in 175; he died on 26 May 189. 


According to GuΓ©rin, Lucius ruled an area in the vicinity of the current Scottish city of Glasgow. He would later be included in the calendar of saints († ca 200, party December 3). Nowadays, it is assumed that his story is based on a confusion with King Abgar IX of Edessa in Mesopotamia, who was also called Lucius, and who indeed asked for beliefs by the end of the second century. 


Diocletian was emperor from 284-305.


The two envoys of Lucius were Elvan and Mydwyn. They were already Christian.


GuΓ©rin thinks that they were still disciples of Joseph of Arimathea. As we know, there is a legend that tells us that Joseph was a metal trader, and that he got his merchandise from the tin mines of southern England. Still during Emperor Tiberius, before the year 37, he would have already brought the gospel to Britain. Apart from the question whether and to what extent all of this is true, it seems illogical that Elvean and Mydwyn would have personally known Joseph in the second half of the second century. At most, their faith went back to his proclamation.


According to William of Malmsbury (who wrote in the 12th century!), Pope Eleutherus gave the two envoys two faith preachers: Fagan (also Faganus, Fugatius or Phagan, † 2nd century, festival 26 May) and Dyfan (also Damian, Deruvian or Duvanus; † 2nd century, party 26 May). Their names suggest that they were of Celtic or perhaps even British origin. So they were the designated men to go with the two envoys to their country of origin to bring the gospel there.


Beda does not mention their names, let alone if they were successful. We read about this at Geoffrey Monmouth; he also wrote in the mid-12th century. He claims, however, that his facts go back to an old manuscript. It is said that Fagan and Dyfan made many conversions. King Lucius was baptized and the entire population with him. The druids' seats were converted into bishop's seats, and the locations of archdruges became archbishoprics.


They must have died by the end of the second century. Newman gives as the year 182, GuΓ©rin 198.


Beda suggests that this all went down during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). When, two hundred years later, Saint Patrick († 461, feast March 17) crossed that same area, he came across the ruins of the ancient sanctuaries. In the ruins he would have found a copy of "The Acts of the Apostles" and a report of the work of Fagan and Dyfan, by the scholar Mydwyn.

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