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Aled


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(6th century),

legendary Welsh virgin. Most of what we know of her comes from Gerald of Wales, archdeacon of Brecon 1175–95, who lived only a few miles away from the church he describes. This was on a hilltop, close to Brecon castle. Here on her feast, crowds ‘of ordinary folk assemble there from far and wide. Thanks to the merits of this holy virgin, those who are suffering from maladies of any sort recover the health for which they pray.’ Further details follow of dances in the graveyard by young people of both sexes who sing traditional songs, suddenly collapse on the ground, and then mime with hands and feet the work they have performed against the commandment on Sabbath days. The occupations mimed include those of ploughmen, cobblers, spinners, and weavers. Afterwards these people went into the church with their offerings: ‘by taking part in these festivities, they feel in their hearts the remission of their sins and are absolved and pardoned.’

The legend of Aled current in the 17th century closely resembles that of Winefride. This made her a young nun who refused to marry a prince. She took refuge in Llanfillo and Llechfaen and eventually at Slwch Tump, near Brecon, where the local lord enabled her to build a cell. Some time later her princely suitor caught up with her: she fled again, but this time he pursued her and cut off her head with his sword. Here a spring of water appeared. Her cell became a small church which survived in a ruinous state until 1698. Feast: 1 August.

Gerald of Wales, Journey through Wales (ed. L. Thorpe), pp. 91–3: B.L.S., viii. 8–9.

Subjects: Christianity.


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