Nidan

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For the martial arts rank of Nidan, see Dan (rank).
Nidan
Born 6th century
Died 7th century (possibly 610)
Honored in
Church in Wales, Roman Catholic Church[1]
Major shrine Relics reputedly at St Nidan's Church, Llanidan
Feast 30 September (Wales)
3 November (Scotland)
Patronage In Wales: two churches in Anglesey
In Scotland: one church in Aberdeenshire

Nidan (sometimes known as Midan or Idan) was a Welsh priest (and, according to some sources, a bishop) in the 6th and 7th centuries who is commemorated as a saint. He was the confessor for the monastery headed by St Seiriol at Penmon and established a church at what is now known as Llanidan (which are both places on the Welsh island of Anglesey). He is the patron saint of two churches in Anglesey: St Nidan's Church, Llanidan, built in the 19th century, and its medieval predecessor, the Old Church of St Nidan, Llanidan. Midmar Old Kirk in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is also dedicated to him: Nidan is said to have helped to establish Christianity in that area as a companion of St Kentigern. St Nidan's, Llanidan, has a reliquary dating from the 14th or 16th century, which is said to house his relics.

Life[edit]

Little is known in detail about Nidan's life, and his year and place of birth are unknown. He is sometimes referred to as "Midan" or "Idan".[1][2] According to manuscript sources, such as Peniarth MS 45 in the National Library of Wales (which has been dated to the 14th century),[3] he was the son of Gwrfyw ab Pasgen ab Urien Rheged.[2] He was a descendant of Urien Rheged (as was Saint Grwst of Llanrwst, a town on the north Wales mainland in present-day Conwy County Borough).[4] Urien was a "celebrated warrior" from the late 5th century, whose deeds were commemorated by the Welsh poet Taliesin.[5]

Nidan was associated with St Seiriol's monastery at Penmon, on the eastern tip of Anglesey in north Wales, and was the monastery's confessor.[2] He is also referred to as a bishop in one source.[6] He founded a church in what is now known as Llanidan, also on Anglesey, near to the Menai Straits. According to tradition, this was established in 616.[7] He is reported to have lived at Cadair Idan, near the church, and a well about 200 yards (180 m) away from the church is reputed to be his holy well.[2]

Nidan is said to have been one of the 665 monks who travelled with St Kentigern (also known as St Mungo, and reputed to be a cousin of his) from Llanelwy, north Wales, to Scotland. Together with another of Kentigern's companions, Finan or Ffinan, they are said to have established Christianity in Midmar (in what is now Aberdeenshire) in the 7th century. A church in Midmar was dedicated to Nidan.[2][8] However, the existence of a link between Nidan and Kentigern has been doubted, with one author saying that "the whole idea that these people [i.e. Nidan and Ffinan] had any connection with Kentigern is without any real foundation."[9]

According to some sources, he died in about 610 (which would be inconsistent with the reported foundation date for the church at Llanidan of 616).[1][10]

Commemoration[edit]

The Old Church of St Nidan, Llanidan, was in use until the middle of the 19th century when it was replaced by St Nidan's Church, Llanidan, nearer to the village of Brynsiencyn. This was for two reasons: the old church needed repair, and also because the population of Brynsiencyn needed a church. The old church was then partially demolished.[7][11] The new church contains a sandstone reliquary, about 26 inches (66 cm) long, which is said to contain Nidan's relics.[12][13] The reliquary's date is uncertain: it has been described as being "probably" from the 14th century,[2] but also, in a more recent description, as "probably 16th century".[7] It was found buried under the altar of the old church in 1700.[2]

His feast day in the Welsh calendar of saints is 30 September; in the Scottish calendar of saints, it is 3 November.[2][14] Nidan was venerated as a saint, although he was never canonized by a pope: as the historian Jane Cartwright notes, "In Wales sanctity was locally conferred and none of the medieval Welsh saints appears to have been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church".[15]

See also[edit]

Other Anglesey saints commemorated at local churches include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c St. Augustine's Abbey (Ramsgate, England) (1994). The book of saints (6th ed.). Cassell. p. 401. "Midan (Nidan) (St) Sept 30 d. c.610. A saint of Anglesey who flourished early in the seventh century." 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Baring-Gould, Sabine; Fisher, John (1907). The lives of the British saints; the saints of Wales and Cornwall and such Irish saints as have dedications in Britain 4. Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. pp. 14–16. 
  3. ^ Owen, Morfydd E. "Welsh Triads: An Overview". Celtica (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) 25: 225. Retrieved 2 June 2010. "NLW MS Peniarth 45 [was] dated by J. Gwenogvryn Evans to the thirteenth century. Daniel Huws would date the manuscript a quarter of a century later and to the fourteenth." 
  4. ^ Anwyl, E. (1905). "Prolegomena to the Study of Old Welsh Poetry". The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion: Session 1903–1904. London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. p. 76. 
  5. ^ Way, Albert (1869). "Alabaster reliquary found in Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire, with notices of an object of the like description existing in Anglesey". Archaeological Journal (Royal Archaeological Institute) XXVI: 219. 
  6. ^ Barrett, Michael (1919). A calendar of Scottish saints. Fort Augustus: Abbey Press. p. 158. 
  7. ^ a b c Haslam, Richard; Orbach, Julian; Voelcker, Adam (2009). "Anglesey". The Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd. Yale University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-300-14169-6. 
  8. ^ "Aberdeenshire's Historic Kirkyards: Midmar Old Kirk" (PDF). Aberdeenshire Council. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  9. ^ Jackson, Kenneth H. (1958). "The sources for the life of St Kentigern". Studies in the Early British Church. Cambridge University Press. p. 317. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Sheehan, Thomas W. (2001). Dictionary of Patron Saints' Names. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-87973-539-5. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  11. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1849). "A Topographical Dictionary of Wales". British History Online. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  12. ^ Cadw (2009). "Church of St Nidan (new church)". Historic Wales. Retrieved 27 September 2011. "Reliquary chest, moved from the old church, of sandstone, with coped lid and moulded mullions. Now with glass front, locally reputed to hold the relics of St. Nidan." 
  13. ^ Way, Albert (1869). "Alabaster reliquary found in Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire, with notices of an object of the like description existing in Anglesey". The Archaeological Journal (Royal Archaeological Institute) XXVI: 215–216. 
  14. ^ Rees, Rice (1836). "Section XIII: The Welsh Saints from A.D.600 to the Death of Cadwallon A.D.634". An Essay on the Welsh Saints. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman. p. 295. 
  15. ^ Cartwright, Jane (Spring 2002). "Dead virgins: feminine sanctity in medieval Wales". Medium Aevum (The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature). Retrieved 26 August 2011.