The Shadow of a Building.

Yesterday I was a time traveler, myself and 30 or more others stood or sat freezing on a cold Cardiff day and for a span we were in pre-reformation Wales.
As our presiding Priest said in his homily, this building is normally a shadow of a church, without its congregation and the services of a Priest it isnt a church, but today we join with the generations of people for whom this church was a part of the story their lives and a memorial to their souls, For an hour it was a church again. The service was organised by the Cardiff University Chaplincy, and has becom an annual event for the Saturday after St Teilos day (9th Feb) The figure of St Teilo astride his faithfull white deer can be seen to the left of the altar in the picture below.

 A small group were singing Byrds Mass for three voices, in Latin in the chancel of  St Teilo's Church which is as near as modern archaeological skill can make it a church rebuilt and decorated to what it was before The Kings Great Matter.

Stone floor, benches against the walls white washed plaster outside , and inside, covered with wonderful paintings on every  wall. Above us a Rood loft ornately and intricately carved and painted in bright colours. And every wall showing the unlettered and  certainly Welsh speaking people ,Saints and their stories, warnings of Judgement and objects of veneration from the life of Christ.

In the chancel the altar was being used as an altar and not just as set decoration for an exhibit. A robed priest assisted by acolytes and servers. The sweet scent of  incense and the eternal mystery of the mass.
There is a wonderful exuberant naivity about the paintings which have been recreated from the fragments that remained on the walls beneath the layers of plain whitewash and paint that had been put on to obliterate them. Its a miracle of painstaking work by the staff of St Fagans.
 We had a normal OF Mass (with the new wording) for the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes so that it was an ordinary Parish Church again for that hour, we sang along with the small choir when able using Latin for the Offertory ,Sanctus etc and the Greek Agnus Dei .

 And despite being purely acapella our rousing Offertory Hymn ' Lord Accept the gifts we offer ' and reccesional   Lourde's hymn were  both tune full and heartfelt.

Not only did we have a reverent and beautiful Mass ,there was Benediction with a Monstrance brought specially for the occasion like all the other items used at the Mass. carried through the Museum grounds by the Priests and other helpers.

St Fagans National Museum of Welsh Life   is a large and fascinating place with cottages , farmhouses,shops and many other items re-creating Wales past and the buildings have been painstakingly brought here from all over Wales, renovated and decorated to show a particular place and time from the thousands of years of Welsh history, and yesterday St Teilos was truly a Catholic church for an hour as it contained that most precious and holy thing that the museum can never replicate the True Presence of God in the Blessed sacrament.

The walls bear many images of Jesus and His Passion but yesterday He was Truly present just as He had been for centuries until the personal passions of a King swept away the beloved faith of the people. I hope the visitors who waited patiently outside for our service to end gained a Blessing from hearing us!


  1. Awesome! What a wonderful experience. I love St Fagans, full of our history, it is as you say that like going back in time.
    Hope you are well,


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