Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ASAPH ( c. 600 ), reputed founder of the see of S. Asaph .

He is only known through tradition. In the oldest form of ‘ Bonedd y Saint ’ he appears as the son of Sawyl (Samuel) Benuchel and the grandson of Pabo Post Prydain ; Penuchel (highbrow) may be a euphemism for Penisel (lowbrow), which is found in another early source.

Fragments of an early life were included in the ‘ Red Book of Asaph ,’ according to the transcripts of that MS., not one of which has yet been printed; apart from this, the only account of Asaph is that given in the life of S. Kentigern , written by Jocelin , a monk of Furness Abbey , about 1180 . Jocelin assigns to Kentigern the distinction of being the prime founder of the monastic settlement on the banks of the Elwy , but adds (using the life of a younger saint) that among his favourite pupils was one Asaph , of noble birth, whom he singled out as his successor and who was accordingly consecrated bishop in his stead, when he returned to Strathclyde . Whatever may underlie this story, it is noteworthy that there is no local commemoration of Cyndeyrn , while Asaph 's name is preserved in Llanasa , Pantasa , and Ffynnon Asa , all in northern Flintshire .

His festival day is 1 May ; the Breviary of Aberdeen has an office for him. Nothing is known of the history of his see for several centuries; it reappears with the appointment of Gilbert as bishop in 1143 . To the Welsh it has always been known as Llanelwy (hence the LatinLanelvensis ’), but about 1150 foreigners began to use what was for them the simpler form of S. Asaph .


  • The Lives of the British Saints , i, 177-85.


Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959