Tysilio

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Saint Tysilio
Bishop
BornLate 6th century
Powys, Wales
Died640
Saint-Suliac, Brittany
Honored in
Anglican Communion
Roman Catholic Church
CanonizedPre-congregation
Major shrineFons Tysilio holy well at Guilsfield
Feast8 November
 
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Saint Tysilio
Bishop
BornLate 6th century
Powys, Wales
Died640
Saint-Suliac, Brittany
Honored in
Anglican Communion
Roman Catholic Church
CanonizedPre-congregation
Major shrineFons Tysilio holy well at Guilsfield
Feast8 November

Saint Tysilio (died 640) was a Welsh bishop, prince and scholar, son of the reigning King of Powys, Brochwel Ysgithrog,[1] maternal nephew of the great Abbot Dunod of Bangor Iscoed and an ecclesiastic who took a prominent part in the affairs of Wales during the distressful period at the opening of the 7th century.

Life[edit]

Prince Tyslio (or Sulio) was the second son of Brochfael Ysgythrog (of the Tusks). He fled his father's court at an early age to throw himself on the mercy of Abbot Gwyddfarch of Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and beg to become a monk. A Powysian warband was sent to retrieve him, but King Brochfael was eventually persuaded that his son should be allowed to stay. Tysilio probably started his career in Trallwng Llywelyn (Welshpool) and afterwards took up residence in Meifod where he was associated with Gwyddvarch and St Beuno.

Fearful of further trouble from his family, Tysilio set up his base at a hermitage on Ynys Tysilio (Church Island) in the Menai Straits and became a great evangeliser on Ynys Mon (Anglesey). He spent seven years there before returning to Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and succeeding as Abbot. Tyslio rebuilt the Abbey Church and things were peaceful for a while. He founded the second church in Meifod - the Eglwys Tysilio. His feast day, or gwyl-mabsant, was 8 November which was also the date of the patronal festival and "wakes" in the nearby parish of Guilsfield, where a holy well was dedicated to him - the Fons Tysilio.

After the death of Tysilio's brother, his sister-in-law, Queen Gwenwynwyn, desired to marry Tysilio and place him on the throne of Powys. Objecting to both proposals, the saint refused and found his monastery persecuted by the state. So he resolved to leave for Brittany with a handful of followers. Tysilio travelled through Dyfed and across the Channel to Saint-Suliac where he established a second monastery. Tysilio is traditionally said to be the original author of the Brut Tysilio, a variant of the Welsh chronicle Brut y Brenhinedd,[2] although Brynley F. Roberts has demonstrated that the Brut Tysilio originated around 1500 as an "amalgam" of earlier versions of the Brut y Brenhinedd, which itself derives from Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century Latin Historia Regum Britanniae.[2]

Death and burial[edit]

Tysilio died and was buried at the Abbey of Saint Suliac in 640. Today his name is remembered in several church and place names in north Wales; most famously in the longest place name in the United Kingdom, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which translates into English as "Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave". The name, however, is a late 19th-century invention for the burgeoning tourist industry in the area.

Identity[edit]

St Tysilio has been confused, historically, with Saint Sulien, with some scholars suggesting that they were the same historical character. The facts that they lived in different Celtic states, and had different feast days from antiquity, make this suggestion unlikely.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See here.
  2. ^ a b Brynley F. Roberts, Brut y Brenhinedd, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1971, pp. xxiv-xxxi

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]