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St. Anna of Oxenhall
(Born c.AD 445)
(Latin: Anna; English: Anne)

St. Anna was a younger daughter of Vortimer Fendigaid, the King of Gwerthefyriwg - what is now Gwent, where she grew up. She married, as her first husband, Cynyr Ceinfarfog (the Fair Bearded), Lord of Caer-Goch in Dyfed and St. Ann's Head, west of Milford Haven in this kingdom, is probably named after her. The two had at least six children together, the eldest of whom was the famous Arthurian warrior, Cai Hir (the Tall), and another was the mother of St. David. Following Myrddin (alias Merlin)'s agreement with the High-King Uther that his son should be brought up in secret, the family was expanded by the addition of a foster-son, the future High-King Arthur.

Though this lady is mostly recorded in manuscripts of very late date, her circumstances seem to fit rather well. She is probably to be identified with the historically established Anna, mother of St. Samson, who was also from Gwent. Some time after Arthur's ascendancy to the British throne, Cynyr seems to have passed away and Anna's hand was sought by Prince Amon Ddu (the Black) of Brittany. After they married, Amon moved to Anna's Dyfed home and became a high-ranking official at the Royal Court. They had at least three children, Samson, Tydecho and Tegfedd, all of whom entered a religious life. Samson became an influential bishop and eventually persuaded his parents to also enter the church. Amon became a monk at Ynys Byr (Caldey Island), whilst Anna moved back to her native Gwent. The 'Virtuous' Holy Well at Trellech was originally dedicated to her; but she is better known for founding churches further east in what is now Gloucestershire, at Oxenhall and Siston. Samson visited her at the former and dedicated both her foundations. The holy well of St. Anne in the Woods at Brislington may also be named after her.

 

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