Cadoc (DNB00)

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CADOC, called the Wise, in Welsh Cattwg Ddoeth (d. 570?), a Welsh saint, the early lives of whom are so contradictory that it must be supposed that there was more than one person of the name, is said to have been the son of Gwynllyw Filwr (Latinised into Gundlæus), lord of Gwynllwg in Glamorganshire, by Gwladys, daughter of Brychan, a chieftain of Talgarth in Brecknockshire. This Brychan, it may be said, gave his name to Brecknock, in Welsh Brycheiniog. Another Cadoc is said to have been son of this same Brychan, and according to some accounts Cadoc the Wise was his great-great-grandson. Cadoc the Wise was cousin to St. David of Menevia, and nephew to St. Canoc of Gallen. He voluntarily devoted himself to a religious life from his earliest years, and miracles are ascribed to him while yet in his boyhood. He was educated by an Irish anchoret, Menthi; declined to succeed his father in his principality; went to Gwent or Caerwent, Monmouthshire, and studied under the Irish saint, Tathai. He made repeated visits to Rome and Jerusalem, and also to Ireland and Scotland, in search of the best instruction of his time. Of the numerous foundations ascribed to St. Cadoc the most famous was the abbey of Llancarvan in Glamorganshire, of which he was the first abbot. This, like other monastic institutions of the age, was as much a place of secular and religious instruction as the home of a religious community. At Llancarvan St. Cadoc enjoyed the friendship of Gildas, also surnamed the Wise, who taught in his school, and he had among his pupils Taliesin, the most famous of the early Welsh poets. Among the earliest monuments of the Welsh language figures the ‘Doethineb Catwg Ddoeth,’ or ‘Wisdom of Cadoc the Wise,’ printed in vol. iii. of the ‘Myvyrian Archaiology’ of Owen Jones; this consists of proverbs, maxims, and triads, prose and verse; and in the ‘Iolo MSS.’ of Edward Williams are printed ‘Dammegion Cattwg Ddoeth,’ or ‘Fables of Cadoc the Wise.’ The second of these fables is entitled ‘Dammeg y gwr a laddwys ei filgi,’ ‘the story of the man who killed his greyhound.’ This is in fact the well-known story of Beddgelert, told without names; it ends by saying that ‘as sorry as the man who killed his greyhound’ has passed into a proverb. The old life, printed in Rees's ‘Lives of Cambro-British Saints,’ after recording the many miraculous feats of St. Cadoc, goes on to tell how, having been previously warned in a vision, he is carried off in a cloud to Beneventum, where he is immediately chosen abbot and named Sophias, and on the bishop's death is chosen to succeed him. Being asked in a dream what form of death he preferred, he chose martyrdom, and accordingly was killed by a soldier while saying mass on the following day. Cadoc was buried at Beneventum, and over his grave was built a church which no Briton was allowed to enter for fear of the saint's body being carried off. Colgan and Lanigan assign his death to 570; the former argues that he was martyred at Beneventum, but the latter represents him as dying at Llancarvan. The following churches are said to be of St. Cadoc's foundation: Llangattock and Crickhowel in Brecknockshire; Porteinion, Gelligaer, Cadoxton-juxta-Barry and Cadoxton-juxta-Neath, Llancarvan, Pendenlwyn, Pentyrch, and Llanmaes in Glamorganshire; Llangattock-upon-Usk, Llangattock Lenig, and Llangattock Lingoed in Monmouthshire. He is commemorated on 14 Jan. The extant manuscript lives of Cadoc are described in Hardy's ‘Descriptive Catalogue,’ i. 146–51.

[Bollandi Acta Sanctorum, Jan. ii. 602; W. J. Rees's Lives of Cambro-British Saints; Rice Rees's Essay on Welsh Saints; Colgan's Acta Sanctorum, 158–61; Iolo MSS. (1848); Lanigan's Eccles. Hist. Irl. i. 439; Dict. of Christian Biog.]

A. M.