This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29 -- Feast of Saint Gildas Sapiens

Saint Gildas de Rhuys, en France. 
There's at least one historical Gildas -- maybe two.  There's also the Gildas of legend, some of whose exploits are no doubt in some way rooted in the historical Gildares (Gildae? Gildanes?  Gildases?). 

The historical Gildas was a Welsh monk, author of a somewhat more forgiving Rule than that of Saint David.  I'll confess that I don't know how David's Rule stacks up against Benedict's, but I would tend to favor a little elasticity in monastic rules, if I had to live under one.  Irish monks crossed the sea to learn from Gildas, which is high praise as the sixth century Irish monastic tradition was no small thing.
Michelangelo's Jeremiah

This same Gildas, author of De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain), blamed the faithlessness of the British people.  Just as Jeremiah (to whom Gildas is often compared) told the Hebrews that the Babylonian Captivity was their own fault for not following the laws of God, Gildas told the Brits that the Anglo-Saxons were swarming across Britain because they (the British) had failed the Lord.  It's called tough love. 

A saint named Gildas, perhaps the same guy or maybe another one, lived as a hermit in Brittany (France).  He/They are celebrated on January 29. 

Gildas, who stood in judgment of late antiquity British kings like Aurelius Conanus and Maelgwn, was apparently helpful to King Arthur.  King Melwas abducted Arthur's wife, Guinevere, at some point, which ought to have triggered a civil war among Britons.  Civil war was the last thing they needed during the Anglo-Saxon-Jute invasion, so Gildas negotiated the Queen's release and a reconciliation between the kings.  Sadly, Gildas' brother was less helpful to the King.  Huail ap Caw led a rebellion against Arthur and was beheaded by him.  The execution stone is preserved in the Welsh town of Ruthin.  Perhaps this is why Arthur is not mentioned in Gidas' extant writings, even though they were contemporaries. 

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