Welsh Voice Hearers

There are notable people from Wales throughout history have experienced voices and visions, here are some examples (click on the name for more information):

Saint David
Anthony Hopkins
Saint  Illtyd
Saint Patrick

Saint David

Saint David (c. 500–589) (Welsh: Dewi Sant) was a Welsh Bishop during the 6th century; he was later regarded as a saint and as the patron saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life. He lived a simple life and practiced asceticism, teaching his followers to refrain from eating meat or drinking beer. His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek (this is questioned by some authorities and largely comes from reference in Shakespeare’s Henry V, VI 1). His emblem is a dove. Through his leadership, many monks went forth to evangelise Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Armorica (Brittany and surrounding provinces). The story goes that David prayed for his people to have some warning of their death, so that they could prepare themselves. In a vision, David’s wish was granted and told that from then on, people who lived in the land of Dewi Sant (Saint David) “would be forewarned by the dim light of mysterious tapers when and where the death might be expected.” More information here.

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Anthony Hopkins

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE  (born 31 December 1937), best known as Anthony Hopkins, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television, and a composer. Considered to be one of the greatest living actors. In 1993, in an interview in the News of the World, the Hollywood actor Anthony Hopkins made a remarkable admission, he claimed he heard strange voices in his head,

“I’ve always had a little voice in my head, particularly when I was younger and less assured”, he said. “While onstage, during classical theatre the voice would suddenly say, “Oh, you think you can do Shakespeare, do you?” and he added; “Recently, I was being interviewed on television and the voice inside my head said to me, “Who the hell do you think you are. You’re just an actor, what the hell do you know about anything”.

Anthony Hopkins locates the root of his voice hearing experience in the insecurity he felt as a child, he said

I’ve always had a little voice in my head pulling me down, particularly when I was younger and less grounded…My school days were not always happy and I wanted to get away from Wales and be someone else. I was stupid at school, I just didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was on Mars, I didn’t know what they were talking about.

Many voice hearers share this description of the trigger for the voice experience and a recent survey showed that Hopkins is by no means alone. Social circumstances are related to the onset of the voices and examples of this include unbearable living situations, recent or childhood traumas, conflicts between the ideal and reality of people’s lives and the person’s overall emotional development.

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Saint  Illtyd

St. Illtyd (450-535)  Latin meaning: “the one safe from all evil” St. Illtyd is one of the most celebrated Welsh saints. The village of Llanelltyd is named after him. The name Illtyd is little known in its original Welsh form, outside Wales; but in another form, it is known throughout the whole world, for St. Illtyd has been speculated to be the original of no other than Sir Galahad, he who, in day of old, saw the vision of the Holy Grail, and followed it, to be crowned king at last in the “far spiritual city”. Sir Galahad was deemed to be the purest and noblest of all in the “Quest of the Holy Grail” and also the only Knight worthy to achieve the quest as his ‘strength was as the strength of ten’.

St. Illtyd was the son of Breton Prince Bican. His mother was Lady Rhieinwylydd. His parents sent him as a young boy to learn the ways of the church, apparently under his great-uncle, St. Garmon. Though an excellent pupil, he turned his training instead to the military.

The story goes that after his military training he travelled to Britain to seek out his cousin, High King Arthur. He was given a fine welcome and stayed at the Royal British Court and stayed there for some time in the King’s service. Later, however, he was offered a position in the Royal Guard of King Pawl of Penychen. He moved with his wife to what is now Mid-Glamorgan in Wales and Illtyd so impressed the King that he was soon made Master of the Royal Household.

Illtyd’s royal war band was an unruly lot and was wont to harass strangers in the kingdom. They once stole some food and drink from the monastery at St. Cadog’s but were pursued by the monks and driven into a bog where the earth swallowed them up. There were 50 of them under Illtyd’s command but only Illtyd survived.

Cadog reminded him of his Christian upbringing and converted him back to his childhood religion. An angel is said to have told him to leave his wife, and he became a monk and built a monastery in what is now called Llantwit Major, Wales, which became famous far and wide as a centre of learning. Illtyd gathered around him many other monks and taught them the seven religious arts.

He was the most learned of his day in both Testaments and in all kinds of knowledge. He taught several other monks who also became saints including St. David the patron saint of Wales, St. Patrick, St. Samson, St. Gildas, St. Tudwal, St. Paul of Leon, and one of the greatest Welsh Kings, Maelgwyn Gwynedd. To the people generally he taught many things, among which was an entirely new and improved style of ploughing and also helped them reclaim land from the sea. His college that he founded at Llantwitt Major was the immediate source from which the Christianization of Ireland and a large part of Western Europe was effected. It was a great foundation and a center of missionary activity in Wales. Illtyd founded what may well have been the most advanced and strongest learning flourishing in the Europe of his day.

The tragic part of his life where he was forced to hide several years in caves because he was falsely accused of murder by the King Merchwyn where it was said that it was a miracle that he survived in the caves and that he was fed from heaven.

The most famous legend  concerns when he set the year’s harvest in order, threshed and stored it in granaries and then decided to visit his childhood home in Brittany. While abroad, he saw the Breton poor starving and had his abbey’s whole crop transported in ships across the Channel to feed them to relieve them from the famine, which is basically the way he led his remarkable life, kindly and unselfishly serving God and his fellow man.

Finally, the very last music is to represent that he was one of the founding fathers of the Christian church in Wales, many Breton churches are dedicated to him and also represents the parish he founded in Llantwit Major where St. Illtyd taught which John Wesley had described in his day as being abundantly large and beautiful 200 years ago, where it still stands today.

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Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick  (387  – 460) was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland.  When he was about 16, he was captured from Wales by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Roman Catholic Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

As a slave in Ireland Patrick worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years. He writes that his faith grew in captivity, and that he prayed daily. After six years he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port, two hundred miles away he says, where he found a ship and, after various adventures, returned home to his family, now in his early twenties. Patrick also recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.

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