Cybi (DNB00)

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CYBI, CUBI, or KEBI (fl. 560?), saint, was one of the more famous of the great host of Welsh saints who flourished during the sixth century. His existence may be regarded as proved by the foundations always connected with his name, but the details of his life, as told by the hagiographers, are not trustworthy. He is said to have sprung from a noble Cornish stock, and to have been, through his mother Gwen, a cousin of St. David. The different genealogies of the saint do not, however, entirely agree, and as there were other districts besides the modern county which were known as Cornwall, and with which the saint is equally likely to be connected, his Cornish origin also has sometimes been disputed. It is said that he spent much of his early life in Gaul, and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but the latter is almost as unlikely as the story that he was consecrated bishop by Hilary of Poitiers, who flourished two centuries earlier than he. He is then said to have returned to his native land, and, after various adventures in Gwent, to have betaken himself to Ireland. Thence he was expelled by a wicked chief, Crubthir Fintam, and compelled to put to sea with his disciples in an open boat. He was miraculously saved from a tempest, and landed in Anglesea, then under the power of the ‘island dragon,’ Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd, whom we know, from Gildas, his contemporary, to have flourished about the middle of the sixth century. At first Maelgwn was hostile, but ultimately proved a good friend to him. On the island on which the town of Holyhead is now built, and which Maelgwn himself perhaps granted to the saint, Cybi found a remote and congenial site for the great Celtic monastery over which he became abbot and bishop, and with which he is chiefly connected. The island still retains in Welsh the name of Ynys Gybi, and Holyhead itself of Caergybi. There Cybi lived for the rest of his life, and there he was buried. The parish church of the modern town still retains its dedication to him. The names of his followers, such as Caffo, appear among the saints giving name to neighbouring parishes in Anglesea. Three Llangybis, in widely different parts of Wales (Carnarvonshire, Cardiganshire, and Monmouthshire), are named after the saint. The day of St. Cybi is 8 Nov.

[Vita Sancti Kebi in Rev. W. J. Rees's Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, pp. 183–7, from MS. Cott. Vespasian A. xiv.; Professor R. Rees's Essay on the Welsh Saints, p. 266.]

T. F. T.