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Saint Dyfan
Merthyr Dyfan parish church.jpg
SS Dyfan & Teilo's in Merthyr Dyfan
FeastUsually unobserved
PatronageMerthyr Dyfan

Saint Dyfan is a highly obscure figure who was presumably the namesake of Merthyr Dyfan ("martyrium of Dyfan") and therefore an early Christian saint and martyr in southeastern Wales in Roman or Sub-Roman Britain.[1] He is sometimes styled the protomartyr of Wales. The erection of his martyrium was credited to the 6th-century St Teilo. In the 19th century, Edward Williams conflated him with St Deruvian, a figure in the legendary accounts of the baptism of King Lucius of Britain. The discovery of Williams's alterations and forgeries have since discredited this connection.[2] Partially based on this connection, however, the church of Merthyr Dyfan dates his martyrdom to c. 180.

His feast day does not appear in any medieval Welsh calendar of the saints and is not presently observed by the Anglican, Catholic, or Orthodox churches in Wales.


The parish church of Merthyr Dyfan is now dedicated jointly to SS Dyfan and Teilo.[3] As late as 2010, it continued to promote itself as the oldest Christian settlement in Wales on the basis of Dyfan's supposed connection to the King Lucius legends.[4]

There is a Llandyfan ("St Dyfan's") outside Ammanford notable for its importance in the early Welsh Nonconformist movement.[5] The only structure is a chapel of ease erected for visitors to the holy well nearby esteemed for treatment of paralysis and related illnesses. This was known as Ffynnon Gwyddfaen or Gwyddfân[7] and Roberts argues against its connection with Dyfan "because the place was always called Llandyfân with the accent on the last syllable", appearing in earlier records as Llanduvaen. Instead, he notes the similarity of the name with Dyfnan, a supposed son of the invading Irishman Brychan of Brycheiniog.[9]

The festival of St Dyfan does not appear in any surviving medieval Welsh calendar of the saints,[10] It sometimes appears in places where St Deruvian is clearly intended;[10] in Willis,[11] it appears on St Doewan's Day, an apparent confusion of the two.[10] The feast is not currently unobserved by any of the major denominations of Wales.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bartrum, Peter C. "Dyfan, St.", in A Welsh Classical Dictionary: People in History and Legend up to about A. D. 1000, p. 236. National Library of Wales, 1993. Emended 2009.
  2. ^ Bartrum, Peter C. "Duvianus (1)", in A Welsh Classical Dictionary: People in History and Legend up to about A. D. 1000, p. 236. National Library of Wales, 1993. Emended 2009.
  3. ^ The Church in Wales. "St Dyfan and Teilo". Representative Body of the Church in Wales, 2014. Accessed 3 February 2015.
  4. ^ The Church in Wales. "The Parish of Merthyr Dyfan: Barry, South Wales". Parish of Merthyr Dyfan (Merthyr Dyfan), 2010. Hosted at the Internet Archive. Accessed 3 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Norman, Terry. "Llandyfan Church". Accessed 3 February 2015.
  6. ^ Randall, Alan. Catholic Llandeilo: A History of St David's Parish. 1987.
  7. ^ Catholic Llandeilo,[6] cited by Norman.[5]
  8. ^ Roberts, Gomer, Hanes Plwyf Llandybie [History of the Parish of Llandybie]. 1939.
  9. ^ History of the Parish of Llandybie,[8] cited and translated by Norman.[5]
  10. ^ a b c Baring-Gould, Sabine & al. The Lives of the British Saints: The Saints of Wales and Cornwall and Such Irish Saints as Have Dedications in Britain, Vol. II, pp. 394–395. Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (London), 1911.
  11. ^ Willis, Browne. Parochiale Anglicanum (1733), p. 199.
  12. ^ The Church in Wales. "The Book of Common Prayer for Use in the Church in Wales: The New Calendar and the Collects". 2003. Accessed 18 Nov 2014.
  13. ^ The Catholic Church in England and Wales. "Liturgy Office: Liturgical Calendar". Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, 2014. Accessed 1 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Saints of the British Isles". Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (London), 2015. Accessed 1 February 2015.