West Vale Catholics - Covering the areas of Llantwit Major and Cowbridge in South Wales.
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MONASTERIES

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What of the monastery itself in Llantwit Major? It grew in size and importance as its reputation expanded. A small Christian town grew up around it. Apart from being a centre of learning, it developed culturally. A number of monuments have survived and these are on display at the west end of the Church.

From the late 9th century on, Llantwit Major was the centre of a flourishing school of sculpture, probably attached to the monastery. Study of the inscriptions suggest that during this period Llantwit Major was the burial place of local kings, an indication of its importance. There are references to Illtud and Samson, the latter evidence of the continued existence of the monastery.

The monastery survived until the Normans under Robert Fitzhamon annexed the Vale of Glamorgan. He confiscated the monastery's land and property and used them to endow the new Abbey at Tewkesbury. From the Vita Sancti Iltuti, we learn that the Clas Church became a collegiate Church, served by a number of clerks.

The Normans rebuilt the primitive Celtic church, its site probably comprising the present "West" Church, but only the round doorway of the main porch entrance and the lower sections of the walls, together with the stone font, date from that period.

During the 13th century, the Church was extended eastwards in Early English style, and there remain relics of that time, evidence of several altars, with niches for statues and piscinae. The tower was constructed at the same time. In the 15th century the Norman building was re-built, the chancel extended and the Rood erected over the chancel arch. A chantry chapel was built and endowed at the west end of the church, and a chantry priest employed.

It is asserted that Cadoc founded the monastery at Llancarfan about 535 on land given him by his uncle. Accompanied by young men with the same aspirations as himself, Cadoc travelled westwards from Gwent looking for a suitable site. The believed they had fund it at Llancarfan, a swampy valley rarely visited by humans, with a small piece of dry hill land. It was not a pleasant spot, full of snakes and insects.
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