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St. Cungar of Congresbury
(c. AD 470-520)
(Welsh: Cyngar; Latin: Concarius, English: Congar)

Cungar was traditionally born in Llanwngar in Pembrokshire in the late 5th century. It seems that he should not be identified with St. Cyngar of Llangefni as their feast days are different. The latter was the son of King Gerren Llyngesog of Dumnonia, but Cungar may perhaps be the grandson of King Ceredig Ceredigion named in the Bonedd y Saint as father of Saints Gwynlleu and Cyndeyrn. His father was Prince Garthog.

The story of his life was concocted at Wells Cathedral in the 12th century, but contains little which can be believed. However, it does appear that Cungar left Wales at a young age and crossed the Bristol Channel, settling at Congresbury in Somerset. A wild boar supposedly showed him where to build his hermitage. There are stories of his staff taking root when he thrust it into the ground and the resulting yew tree can be seen to this day! He apparently turned the surrounding marsh into fertile farmland, thus attracting many followers to his side. Tradition holds that Congresbury became the centre of a West Country See, a precussor of Wells, and that Cungar was its first Bishop. But he was desirous of a solitary life once more and felt himself recalled to Wales. Here, he founded a monastery in Morgannwg. The 16th century publisher of his "Life" wrongly identified this as Llandochau (Llandough-juxta-Cardiff) and perpetuated the myth that St. Dochau was an alternative name for Cungar. This is incorrect.

Cungar may have spent some time in Cornwall and Brittany where churches dedicated to him may still be found. Though there may have been a third Breton Saint of a similar name.

He died, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, on 27th November, supposedly in AD 520, and was buried in his foundation at Congresbury. His shrine is mentioned in 11th & 14th century pilgrim guides but disappeared at the Reformation.

 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.