St. Illtyd, Nov. 6

 

Photo Credit: Robin Croft

According to Journey to Avalon: The Final Discovery of King Arthur: Illtyd, who lived in the 7th century, was the most important soldier-saint of King Arthur’s time. According to one Welsh legend, Illtyd was one of the three Knights of the Holy Grail. He was the son of a nobleman who was married to the daughter of King Tewdrig, Arthur’s grandfather. He studied in Paris, became a disciple of St. Garmon, and then trained as a soldier in Britain. He was a skilled warrior and served Arthur in the defense of Britain. He was made captain and rose to the position of Magister Militum (Mlitary Magistrate). He was known thereafter as Illtyd Farchog (“The Knight”).

According to legend, Illtud’s warband raided Llancarfan Abbey but the monks pursued them into a bog where the earth swallowed all of them except Illtyd. Saint Cadoc, who had previously refused military service, reminded Illtyd of his religion, and advised him to become a monk. The humbled warrior decided that his true vocation lay in the service of God and he accordingly resigned his military position to withdraw from the prince’s service. He separated from his wife and spent time as a hermit in a wooded valley. He gained a reputation for his sanctity and his exceptional teaching. He died in Brittany. His feast day is November 6.

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