Sacred Places of Wales

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Caldey Island and St. Govan's Chapel

St. Govan's Chapel, Tenby Wales From the picturesque resort town of Tenby, in southern Pembrokeshire, with its medieval and Tudor buildings and town walls, boats will take you to Caldey Island. Here monks at the modern Cistercian Monastery, built alongside the 12th century priory, create homemade perfumes and chocolate and provide a hearty welcome for visitors.

After returning to the mainland, you can visit one of the finest and best preserved medieval strongholds in Wales at Manorbier (Southwest of Tenby off the A4139). It is famous as the birthplace of Geraldus Cambrensis, the 12th century historian and patriot, but is also the spot where, according to her biographer, Virginia Wolfe first decided to take up writing.

St. Govan's Chapel
Not too far from Tenby, out on the spectacular southwest coast of Wales, wedged into a tiny crevice in a steep cliff is another sacred spot. This is the tiny chapel of St. Govan, built in the 13th century on the site of the cell of a sixth century Celtic monk. Here the hermit St. Govan, from Wexford in Ireland, and abbot there, reportedly hid from his pagan persecutors in a niche in the rock, which miraculously opened and closed behind him. The modern visitor slim enough to turn around in the niche is assured of good luck and the fulfillment of his wishes. A former well on the chapel floor was supposed to cure many diseases. A huge boulder outside the chapel is also said to hide a silver bell, stolen by pirates (or Vikings) from the chapel tower, but recovered by angels and now kept safe in the rock.

On the way down to the tiny chapel, a steep flight of stone steps cut into the steep cliff has to be navigated. Legend has it that the number counted going down never matches the number reached on the way up. The whole experience is one of mystery, the site is almost inaccessible from land and sea (especially now that the Government uses much of the land approaches to the shrine as a firing range for the military). You have but one small side-journey to make on the way to St. David's - Nevern.

Next Stop: St. Brynach's Church
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