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Brychan of Brecknock

The holy and right-believing King Brychan of Brecknock (b. circa 419) (also Brychain, Brecon, Brocanus) lived during the 5th Century in South Wales. He is famous for producing 24 children with his three wives, all of whom became saints known as the Tribe of Brychan; later becoming a hermit. His feast day is April 6.


St. Brychan was born in Ireland to King Anlach and Queen Marchel. Queen Marth was heiress of the Kingdom of Garthmadrun in Wales, to where they soon moved, residing at Y Fenni-Fach. At the age of four, St. Brychan was sent to be tutored by the blind St. Drichan along the River Ysgir. After seven years of education, St. Drichian asked young Brychan to bring him his spear, with which he pointed to a boar and stag that came out of a forest near a river of fish and beech tree dripping with honey. From this, St. Drichian predicted a bright future for St. Brychan.

When a war began between King Anlach and Irish usurper Banhadle, King of Powys, St. Brychan was sent as a hostage to the enemy's court when the opposing army proved stronger. Now a young man, St. Brychan was received well but soon fell in love with Banhadle's daughter, Banhadlwedd. Because the courtship was denied, he is said to have raped her.

Upon the death of Anlach, St. Brychan was allowed to return home with the pregnant Banhadlwedd. They came to the capital of Caer Efong, where St. Brychan was elevated to King by the local nobles. It was then that Banhadlwedd bore St. Cynog, whom St. Brychan had baptised and to whom he gave a gilded iron Armilla, or Torc from Heaven, as paternal recognition, which the child Cynog wore on his head.

St. Brychan became known as a goodly king, great patron of the Church, and observer of Her teachings. For this, the people renamed their land to Brycheiniog (known today as Breckknock) in his honour. Throughout his reign, the Holy King married thrice, producing 24 children who grew to become enlighteners of North Devon and Cornwall, some of whom also produced saintly offspring.

As good as he was to his people, St. Brychan was known to be ruthless to his enemies. After declining a proposal by a neighbouring king, St. Gwynllyw of Gwynllwg, to marry St. Brychan's daughter, St. Gwladys, she was kidnapped. St. Brychan pursued St. Gwynllyw, fighting a battle lasting days, until the High-King (King Arthur by legend) took St. Gwynllyw's side and ordered them to reconcile. Another time the King of Dyfed or Gwynedd raided Brycheiniog for glory, but discovering the action, St. Brychan slaughtered the army in battle, collecting the enemies' dismembered limbs as trophies.

Becoming old, St. Brychan abdicated his throne to his eldest legitimate son, Rhain Dremudd, and retired to Ynys Brychan to live as a hermit, where he reposed and was buried at an old age.


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