SHRINE TO LOVE
St Dwynwen’s Day, on January 25, is Wales’ own version of St Valentine’s Day. Cards and gifts, such as love spoons, are exchanged, especially among Welsh-speaking people. Dwynwen was a 4th century princess who fell in love with a local boy named Maelon, but her father, King Brychan Brycheiniog, had already arranged for her to marry a prince. Legend has it that Maelon took the news badly, so the distraught Dwynwen begged God for help. He sent down an angel who gave her a potion to help her forget Maelon, and turned him into a block of ice. God then granted Dwynwen three wishes. Her first was that Maelon be thawed; the second, that God help all true lovers; and thirdly, that she should never marry. Dwynwen became a nun, setting up a convent on Anglesey’s Llanddwyn Island, and became known as the patron saint of lovers. Pilgrimages were made to the island, although it is attached to the mainland by a narrow finger of land in all but the highest tides. Offerings left at her shrine funded St Dwynwen’s Church, and its ruins remain where the priory once stood. This small church dates from the 16th century, its building funded by the pilgrims’ offerings.