Getting to the heart of St Dwynwen’s Day

By Raspberry Jim,

It’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but did you know that people across Wales will be breaking out the heart-shaped balloons and roses this weekend too?

St Dwynwen’s Day, Wales’s very own celebration of love, will be taking place on January 25th.

Chocolates and wine are set to fly off the shelves as lovers across Wales mark an extra day of romance.

And just like St Valentine’s Day, our celebration also has a real-life person behind the flower-filled façade.

But how much do you really know about our very own Patron Saint of love?

Here we get to the heart of the sometimes-tragic history behind our very own Valentine …


Who was she?

According to the legend Dwynwen was a fifth century Welsh girl, who was the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, the son of an Irish king.

It was believed she was one of 36 children, with the large family hailing from Brecon.

Dwynwen’s story began when she fell in love with a man from the north, Maelon Dyfodrull. Despite her wishes, her father refused to let them marry as he had arranged for her to become betrothed to another man.

Maelon was furious that she wouldn’t disobey her father, and a devasted Dwynwen prayed that she would fall out of love with him.

Instead, her upset and heartbreak turned Maelon to ice.


Answering prayers

In many stories, fairies and genies appear to the heroine in her time of need.

In this story, Dwynwen’s prayers were answered by an angel who gave her three wishes.

Her first wish was for Maelon to be thawed and for her to be freed of him, after which the story goes, he disappeared.

Her second wish was to never fall in love or marry again. The third wish was to help other lovers or those who had felt the pain of heartbreak.

To show her appreciation and devotion, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life and travelled Wales, preaching and establishing convents and churches.


Visit her church

According to the legend, when Dwynwen reached a little island off Anglesey, she established a church, which became a beacon for young women who had found God.

That place is today known as Llanddwyn (the Church of St Dwynwen) and the remains of the original church still exist.

Image of Llanddwyn by Ian Preston via Flickr


Love springs

Over the generations it has been suggested that a well on the island could be lucky for lovers.

It is suggested that sacred fish, which can predict the fortunes of couples through their movements, swim in the well.

And if people witness the water in the well boiling it could bring good luck and love.

So, whether you’re an old romantic, or a cynic, it’s hard not to fall in love with the courage and conviction of our very own St Dwynwen.