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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

November 14

St. Dubricius, Bishop and Confessor

HOW great soever the corruption of vice was which had sunk deep into the hearts of many in the degenerate ages of the ancient Britons before the invasion of the English Saxons, God raised amongst them many eminent saints, who, by their zealous exhortations and example, invited their countrymen by penance to avert the divine wrath which was kindled over their heads. One of the most illustrious fathers and instructors of these saints was St. Dubricius, who flourished chiefly in that part which is now called South-Wales. 1 He erected two great schools of sacred literature at Hentlan and Mochrhes, both places, situate upon the river Wye or Vaga, which waters Brecknockshire, Radnorshire and Monmouthshire. In this place St. Samson, St. Theliau, and many other eminent saints and pastors of God’s church, were formed to virtue and the sacred ministry under the discipline of St. Dubricius; and persons of all ranks and conditions resorting to him from every part of Britain, he had a thousand scholars with him for years together. It was this great master’s first study, to cultivate well his own soul, and to learn the interior sentiments of all virtues by listening much to the Holy Ghost in close solitude and holy meditation on divine things. He was consecrated the first archbishop of Llandaff, by St. Germanus, in a synod about the year 444, and was afterwards constituted archbishop of Cærleon, which dignity he resigned to St. David in the synod of Brevi in 522. After this, St. Dubricius retired into the solitary island of Bardsey or Euly, on the coast of Cærnarvonshire, where he died and was buried: twenty thousand saints (that is, holy hermits and religious persons) are said in Camden and others to have been interred in that island. The bones of St. Dubricius were afterwards removed to Llandaff. See Alford’s Annals, Leland’s Itinerary, and St. Dubricius’s life, written, as some maintain, by St. Theliau’s own hand, in the Llandaff register. Also his life compiled by Benedict, a monk of Gloucester, in 1120, in Wharton’s Anglia Sacra, t. 2. p. 654.  1
Note 1. Sir William Dugdale, in his Antiquities of Warwickshire, tells us that St. Dubricius fixed his episcopal chair some time at Warwick; and that, during his residence there, the most agreeable solitude, since called Guy’s Cliff, on the side of a rock upon the banks of the Avon, about a mile from Warwick, was the place of his frequent retreats from the world, and that he there built the oratory which was dedicated, not in honour of St. Margaret, as Camden mistakes, but of St. Mary Magdalen. For this, our antiquarian quotes the rolls and a manuscript history of John Rous, or Ross, a nobleman, and famous chantry priest of this place in the days of Edward IV. in whose history, now published by Hearne, are found some curious anedcotes, but blended with many traditionary fables and groundless conjectures. Guy’s Cliff is so called from Guy, the famous English champion against the Danes, in the reign of King Athelstan, commonly called earl of Warwick, though the chief governor or magistrate was then usually called earldorman, the title of earl being introduced a little later by the Danes. His warlike exploits are obscured by having been made the subject of ballads and romances; which also happened to our great King Arthur, and to the famous outlaw and captain of robbers, Robin Hood, who ranged in Sherwood forest in the time of Richard I. Guy, after many gallant achievements, renounced his honours and riches, and led an austere poor life in this place, under the direction of an old virtuous hermit, who lived in a cell or cave which he had hewn in the side of this rock. Guy died in a neighbouring cell in the year 929, of his age the seventieth. Guy’s tower, at Warwick, was so called from Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick; and the curious monuments of other powerful earls who resided in that strong castle (which was very advantageous in the old civil wars, by its situation near the centre of England) are, by the vulgar, very falsely ascribed to this Guy, the champion, afterwards the palmer or pilgrim, and the hermit. Many hermits in succeeding times served God in this delightful solitude, and a great number of cells with innumerable crosses cut in the sides, in the hard rock, are still seen there. Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, founded at Guy’s Cliff, a chantry, which establishment was confirmed by Henry VI. The church is still standing; but serves for an open stable to shelter the cattle, which cover with ordure the very place where the high altar stood. In the nave two great stone statues are still standing, the one representing Guy, the other, Colborn, the Danish champion, whom he slew in a single combat near Winchester. [back]