The History of St Monacella
"From the MSS. of Mr. Powel of Ruabon."
ca. 16th C.
Fuit olim in Powisia quidam princeps illustrissimus nomine Brochwel Ysgithrog et consul Legecestrise qui in urbe tune temporis Pengwern Powys, quod Latine sonat Caput paludis Powys, nunc vero Salopia dicta est, habitabat; cujus domicilium seu habitaculum ibi steterat ubi collegium divi Ceddae episcopi nunc situm est. At idem princeps praeclarus suum domicilium aut manerium supradictum ex sua mera libertate in usum Dei simul et ipsius obsequio in elemosinam dedit et perpetuo pro se et heredibus suis concessit. Cum tandem quodam die anno domini sexcentesimo quarto d ictus princeps venatum transisset ad quendam locum Britannice vocatum Pennant infra dictum principatum de Powys, et ubi odorissequi canes ejusdem principis leporem excitavissent, canes leporem insequebantur, sectabaturque ille usque dum ad rubum quendam, rubum grandem et spinosum venissent. In quo quidem rubo invenit quandam virginem vultu speciosam quam devotissime orantem et divinae contcmplatioui deditam una cum dicto lepore sub vestium extremitate aut ventral! cubante (facie canibus adversa) audacter et intrepide. Tune princeps vociferans "prendite caniculi prendite" quanto magis clamabat incitando tanto remotius ac longius retrocedebant canes, et bestiolam fugiebant ululantes. Demum princeps totus attonitus virgiuem postulavit quampridem in terris ipsius inhabitasset sola in hujusmodi deserto, virgo respondens ait hos quindecim annos nee vultum hominis interim usque modo contemplata sum; post eandem virginem rogavit cuja esset ubinam nata et oriunda, ac ipsa cum omni humilitate respondit se regis Jowchel gnatam esse de Hibernia, et propterea quod pater meus cuidam magno et generoso de Hibernia in uxorem decreverat, solum meum natale fugiens (Deo ducente) hue veni, deo et intemeratae virgini corde et mundo corpore quoad moriar servitura. Deinde qusesivit princeps nomen virginis. Cui respondens ait nomen esse Monacellam. Tune princeps in imo corde prosperitatem virginis considerans solitariam in hasc verba prorupit. O virgo Monacella dignissima, compertum habeo quod es veri Dei ancilla et cultrix christi veracissima: unde eo quod summo deo et maximo pplacuit, huic tuis meritis lepusculo ferocienti salutem impertire conductum et protectionem a canum incursu et persequtionc rapientium et mordacium, has terras meas do et dono tibi auimo quam libentissimo ad serviendum deo, et ut sit perpetuum asylum refugium et tutela pro tui nominis (virgo praeclara) honore, et nee rex nee princeps tarn temerarius aut deo audax ease studeat ut quenquam istuc fugientem masculum aut fceminam tua protectione in his tuis terris gaudere et frui cupientes extrahere quovismodo prsesumat dum modo sanctuarium tuum aut asylum nullatenus contaminent aut polluant. Alioquin si quis sceleratus tuo sanctuario gaudens foras quippiam malefacturus exierit, tune liberi tenentes diet' abbates tui sanctuarii et soli de ipsorum sceleribus cognoscentes si reos desuper et culpa- biles ipsos invenerint officiariis de Powys tradere et deliberare puniendos procurent. Haec virgo Monacella deo gratissima vitam egit (ut praemittitur) solitariam eodem loco per xxxvij. annos. Ac lepores, ferae bestiolae, baud secus quam cicures autmansuetae belluae apud earn singulis diebus familiares in omni vita lucre per quos etiam (divina aspirante dementia) miracula et varia intimo cordis affectu invocantibus auxiliumet favoris gratiam petentibus non desunt. Post mortem dicti principis Brochwel illustrissimi Tyssiliaw filius ejus tenuit principatum de Powys. Deinde Conan frater Tyssiliaw. Postea Tambryd. Deinde Gurmylk et Durres claudusqui omnes dictum locum Pennant Melangell perpetuum sanctarium asylum seu miseriorum refugium tutissimum fore (actadicti principis confirmantes) sanxerunt. Eadcm virgo Monacella virgines quasdem in eadem patria instituere et informare ut sacre et pudice in dei amore perseverant et viverent omni cura et diligentia studuit quae divinis obsequiis intente et dies et noctes nihil agentes aliud transigebant. Deinde statim ut ipsa virgo Monacella ab hac vita migravit, quidam nomine Elisse venit ad Pennant Melangell qui easdem virgines stuprare rapere ant polluere cupiens miserrime expiravit et subito periit. Quisquis dictae virginis libertatem et sanctitatem premissam violaverit divinam in hac parte ultionem raro visus est evitasse, prout quotidie cernere licet: laudes deo altissimo et suse virgini Monacellae.
There was in former times in Powys a certain most illustrious prince, by name Brochwel Ysgithrog, and consul (earl) of Chester, who at that time dwelt in Pengwern Powys, which in Latin signifies the Head of Powys Marsh, but now is called Salop: (and) whose domicile or habitation stood in that spot where the college of St. Chad is at present situated. Now the same illustrious prince gave his domicile or mansion aforesaid, of his own free will, for the use of God, and at the same time from a sense of his own duty, for eleemosynary purposes, and made a perpetual grant of it for himself and his heirs. At length, when upon a certain day in the year of our Lord 604, the said prince had gone hunting to a certain place of Britain called Pennant, within the said principality of Powys, and when the hounds of the same prince had started a hare, the dogs were following the hare and he was pursuing to a certain bramble thicket, a thicket large and thornv; in which thicket he found a certain virgin, beautiful in appearance, praying as devoutly as possible, and given up to divine contemplation, together with the said hare lying under the extremity or fold of her garments (with its face turned towards the dogs) boldly and intrepidly. Then the prince vociferating "Catch her, little dogs! catch her!" the more he shouted while he urged them on, the more remotely and further off did the dogs retreat, and fled from the little wild animal howling. At length the prince altogether astonished, asked the virgin how long she had dwelt alone on his lands, in so desert a spot; the virgin in reply said that for these fifteen years she had never in any way seen the face of man; he afterwards asked the virgin who she was, where she was born and sprung from; and she with all humility answered that she was the daughter of king Jowchel of Ireland, and "because my father had intended me to be the wife of a certain great and noble person of Ireland, I fleeing from my native soil (God guiding me) came hither, in order that I might serve God and the spotless Virgin with my heart and a chaste body until I should die." Then the priuce inquired the name of the virgin. To whom she said in reply that her name was Monacella. Thereupon the prince considering in his inmost breast the prosperous, (though) solitary, condition of the virgin, broke forth into these words: "Oh most worthy virgin Monacella, I find that thou art a hand-maiden of the true God, and a most sincere worshipper of Christ; wherefore because it has pleased the supreme and almighty God, for thy merits, to give safety to this little wild hare, with safe conduct and protection from the attack and pursuit of the ravenous and biting dogs, I give and present to thee, with a most willing mind, these my lands for the service of God, and that they may be a perpetual asylum, refuge, and defence, in honour of thy name, O excellent virgin; and let neither King nor Prince dare to be so rash or bold towards God as that, any man or woman fleeing hither, and desiring to enjoy protection in these thy lands, he should presume to drag forth, provided that they in no way contaminate or pollute thy sanctuary or asylum. On the other hand, if any malefactor enjoying (the privilege of) thy sanctuary, shall go forth in any direction to do harm, then the freeholding ab- bats of thy sanctuary,1 who alone take cognizance of their crimes, if they afterwards find the offenders and culpable persons, and take care that they be given and delivered over to the officers of Powys to be punished." This virgin Monacella, so very pleasing to God, passed her solitary life (in the way mentioned above) for 37 years in this same place. And the hares, wild little animals, just the same as or tame animals, were in a state of familiarity about her every day throughout her whole life; during which time also, by the aid of the Divine Mercy, miracles and various other favours were not wanting to those who asked for her aid, and sought her favour with inward devotion of heart. After the death of the said most illustrious Prince Brochwel, his son Tyssiliau held the principality of Powys; then Conan, the brother of Tyssiliau; afterwards Tambryd; then Gurmylk and Durres the lame; all of whom sanctioned the said place of Pennant to be a perpetual sanctuary, asylum, or safe refuge of the wretched, (thereby confirming the acts of the said prince.) The same virgin Monacella, with all solicitude and diligence, took care to appoint and instruct certain virgins in the same (part of the) country, in order that they might persevere and live holily and modestly in the love of God, and should pass their lives in the service of God, doing nothing else day and night. After this, as soon as the virgin Monacella herself departed this life, a certain man, by name Elisse, came to Pennant Melangell, and wishing to violate, ravish, and pollute the same virgins, died there, and suddenly perished in the most dreadful manner. Whoever has violated the above mentioned liberty and sanctity of the said virgin, has been rarely seen to escape divine wrath on this account, as may be daily perceived. Praises be to the Most High God and to His Virgin Monacella!
"Melangell". Archaeologia Cambrensis. vol. III. London: W. Pickering, 1847. 139-142. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=QLk1AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA142&lpg=PA142&dq=Vita+Monacella+%22Archaeologia+Cambrensis%22&source=bl&ots=y-mtBjadcY&sig=mOOtOPHc_Cvz3-X45lrMHjAMrB8&hl=en&ei=qSWSSaPoOpaitgf2k8DUCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA139,M1