Home Catechetical Corner Our Lenten Journey, March 29: St. Gladys

Our Lenten Journey, March 29: St. Gladys

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If you’re looking for something to read during a stay-at-home order, stories about King Arthur and his knights are always a good choice. But did you know there was a saint connected to the legend of King Arthur? She was a Welsh queen, and her husband and children also became saints.

St. Gladys (sometimes spelled Gwladys) was born in the fifth century, the beautiful oldest daughter of the Irish immigrant King Brychan of Brecknock in Wales. She was raised in the court at Talgarth.

There are many versions of her life story, but most accounts say that Gwynllyw, a pagan and rough character who was known to consort with pirates and warlords, wished to marry the beautiful Gladys. He sent many requests for her hand to her father, but was repeatedly refused, being deemed a poor choice for the princess.

Stained glass image of St Gwladus in St Martin’s Parish Church, Caerphilly. (Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain)

Tired of the many refusals by Gladys’ father, Gwynllyw and 300 of his men abducted her from court and sped away. Her father and his men pursued the kidnappers as far as Fochriw, where King Arthur himself intervened and persuaded her father to allow the marriage. It’s said that Gladys’ beauty was such that Arthur thought about asking for her hand himself, but was convinced by his brother Cai that it would be better to let Gwynllyw and Gladys marry instead. At Gladys’ insistence, Gwynllyw converted to Christianity and became a changed man.

When they ruled in Wales, Gladys and her husband were known as pious and kind monarchs and model parents. Together they had six children, who would become saints. The most well known of their children was St. Cadoc the Wise who founded a monastery and college in Wales.

In the later years of their marriage, they established a hermitage in what is now known as Stow Hill, Newport, South Wales. They took vows of celibacy and lived in separate accommodations to avoid temptation; they ate a diet of only vegetables; and they spent their time devoted to contemplative prayer. After Gwynllyw’s death, Gladys also founded a hermitage in Bassaleg, near Newport, where it is said she is buried under a Celtic cross.

St. Gladys feast day is March 29, as is her husband’s.

A building was named for her at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Read about it here:

https://thomasaquinas.edu/about/about-st-gladys

Read more about St. Gladys here: https://aleteia.org/daily-prayer/friday-march-29/

Read about the legendary King Arthur here: https://www.history.com/news/was-king-arthur-a-real-person

Read more about Gladys’ eldest son, St. Cadoc, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadoc