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Llanilltud Fawr
Home of St. Illtud

The Church of St. Illtud at Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major)  was established by that saint in about AD 520. Originally a warrior in the employ of King Pawl of Penychen, he turned to Christianity under the influence of St. Cadog. He founded his collegiate church soon afterward with the help of St. Dyrfig

Llanilltud Fawr became the pre-eminent centre of learning throughout Christian Britain. Royal children and saints from across Wales were educated there. Amongst Illtud's many pupils were SS. Samson, Pawl of Leon, Gildas, Dewi, Leonorius, Tudwal & Baglan. St. Illtud himself eventually died and was buried in the Church at Llanilltud Fawr where his relics attracted pilgrims from across Wales and the rest of Britain.  The present building dates mostly from the 13th and 15th centuries, although it contains a superb array of early Christian memorial stones, showing it was also the burial place of kings:

  • The beautifully carved disc-headed cross known as the 'Houelt Cross' bears the inscription, "In the Name of God the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Houelt prepared this Cross for the Soul of Res, his Father". It is a memorial to King Rhys ap Arthfael of Morgannwg who died around AD 850. It was erected by his son, King Hywel ap Rhys.
  • The 'St. Illtud' or 'Samson Cross' was once a similar wheel-headed cross, though only the shaft now remains. It bears the inscription, "Samson placed his Cross here for his soul, for the soul of Illtud, Samson, Rhain, Sawyl and Ebisar". It is possible that it was erected by St. Samson himself in the 6th century.
  • A pillar, commonly called the 'Pillar of Samson' is inscribed, "In the Name of the Most High God begins the Cross of the Saviour which Samson the Abbot prepared for his Soul, and for the Soul of Iuthahelo the King and of Artmail and of Tecan". This is a memorial to King Ithel ap Morgan of Morgannwg who died in about AD 745. It was erected by Abbot Samson II of Llanilltud Fawr.

 

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