Greetings from the Shrine Church on St Melangell’s feast day!
Or is it? January 31st was the original date in Wales of the saint’s festival and it’s also suggested online that the saint may have lived in the sixth, seventh or eighth century. 27th May is now stated on many websites as the date but others including the Diocese of St Asaph mark the day on May 28th and so two days of celebration are possible. Coinciding with the Bank Holiday, there could be various ways of observing this but, with the pandemic still being an issue, there will be just the one service of Holy Eucharist and various meetings by Zoom instead. These meetings will involve forty people in France, America, Sweden, Scotland and Wales as technology means it possible still to overcome the challenges of boundaries and isolation to make virtual connections and find common ground. They are drawn by the life and example of a woman who lived so long ago and yet, with her concern for the welfare of the people and creatures around her and the legacy of sanctuary and hospitality that lives on in this valley, is very much a saint for our time too.
The difference in the dating of Melangell’s feast day shows in the two prayer cards being circulated this year. Both are based on the text written by Kim Orr, who lives in Colorado, USA and feature the same image of Melangell by the American artist Tracey Christianson. Kim has a small shrine to St Melangell in her garden and wrote a prayer to the saint for 27th May, sending it at the same time that the Diocese of St Asaph also suggested a prayer card for 28th May. Graciously, Kim gave permission for her prayer to be adapted into a collect, so that it could be sent around the Diocese and beyond. So, with the printer who devised Kim’s prayer card and Fr Henry who also assisted, four Americans and three Brits collaborated to produce the prayer cards that are in circulation and both are attached. It was a bit complicated but it happened!