November 12 is the Feast Day of King Cadwallador of Wales.
Wherever the Gospel of Christ has been preached and has rooted, and wherever people have responded by dedicating themselves to the Saviour, certain souls have reached that closeness to Christ which we call sanctity. Such faith and obedience, in co-operation with God’s grace, can produce a saint even in faithless and pagan times. In the early years of Christianity, for example, when the Faith was persecuted by cruel tyrants, thousands of Christians went to their death rather than compromise their faith and worship the Roman Emperors.
It is not only at such times as this that saints have flourished; but it was nevertheless at precisely such a time that in Wales the Holy King Cadwaladr the Blessed lived and shone as a beacon of Christian virtue. We know little of the details of his life, but what we do know is enough to show that he is a most significant person in Christian history. So much so, that in the Welsh Mediaeval document known as the “Triads”, he is one of only three persons referred to as worthy of the title “Blessed”.
Saint Cadwaladr was king of Britain in the seventh century at the time when the ancient Britons, the ancestors of the Welsh nation, were losing supremacy over Britain. In fact, the history of the Welsh nation, as recorded in the Mediaeval “Chronicles of the Princes” begins with the death of St Cadwaladr.
The period was one of instability and confusion. The defeat of the Welsh, led by his warrior father, Cadwallon, shattered Welsh hopes: and that was the political situation and national mood when Saint Cadwaladr came to the throne. Divine Providence had arranged that this humble man of faith should reign at a time of despair.
St Cadwaladr inherited the throne in dark times. The enemy was powerful; but worse than that, pagan and only too ready to attack the Faith of King Cadwaladr’s people. The king faced religious persecution as well as political attack. Political hopes were slender, but St Cadwaladr was a man of strong and vibrant faith. The natural human instinct would have been to save his own skin, and protect his own possessions, but God’s grace was manifest in the Saint and as an obedient disciple of Christ, he gave him possessions and his lands to his people who were in such a lamentable state – people who sought refuge from the violence and cruelty of the enemy. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25)
His life is a remarkable example of faith, hope and love. He could have allowed selfishness and self-interest to get the better of him, and bitterness to permeate his life, but with the joy that springs from faith, he departed this life despising earthly honour and power and inheriting that Kingdom where there is “neither sickness nor sorrow nor sighing, but life everlasting”.
St Cadwaladr has special significance for this age. It is easy to become disheartened as we see the powers of evil flourishing; virtue despised and faith receding. But the times of St Cadwaladr were worse and he kept faithful to his vision and to his conviction that Christ is the Way whatever the difficulties, trials and dangers that face Christians. His voice resounds down the centuries urging us to be obedient to the commands of Christ for the salvation of our souls and to the glory of the One God in Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
(N.b., I received this in an email. I verified the feast day on a saint’s calendar and googled for the graphic. The text is by someone else. -CtH)