The Celtic Literature Collective

Vita Sancti Kebii
The Life of St. Cybi
Version One

Here begins the life of saint Cybi, bishop. 

1. Saint Cybi was one of the good servants of the heavenly Father, whose festival is held on the eighth day of November, that is, the sixth before the Ides of November. He was sprung from the region of the Cornish between the two rivers, the Tamar and the Limar. His father was Salomon, son of Erbin, son of Gereint, son of Lud. His father too was captain of the guard. He himself was brought up at school.

2. The blessed Cybi was seven years old, when he began to read. Afterwards he was in his own region for twenty years.

3. Then he went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to adore the sepulchre of the Lord. Afterwards he was with the most blessed Hilary, bishop of Poitiers. There he was for fifty years, where he gave sight to the blind and cleansed the leprous, and cured the paralytic and dumb, the insane and the possessed with devils.

4. Afterwards he received the episcopal degree from bishop Hilary. Then he was admonished by an angel of the Lord to return to his own country. He was there a small space.

5. And then he was asked to come to be king of the Cornish-folk, and he declined to take the power of this present world. Afterwards he went forth into his own country with his ten disciples. These disciples are Maelog, Llibio, Peulan,Cyngar, and the rest.

6. Afterwards Cybi arrived in the region of Edelygion, and king Edelig was alive at that time. Saint Cybi descended into the midst of his meadow, and pitched his tent there. And Edelig sent a certain man to see who were the persons who are descending into his meadow. That man returning to Edelig and said he `They are monks.'

7. And straightway Ethelic arose with all his household to eject the monks from his land. And forthwith Ethelic fell from his horse on the way, and immediately his horse died. And Ethelic was straightway blind, and all his household. Then Ethelic prostrated himself on his face, and gave his body and soul to God and saint Cybi. And immediately by the prayer of saint Cybi the men of Ethelic were made whole and himself and his horse.

8. Then Ethelic gave for ever to saint Cybi two churches, of which one is called Llangybi, and the other Llanddyfrwyr, and there Cybi left his small mottled finger-bell. Then saint Cybi, blessing king Ethelic, went forth from thence to Mynyw the city of saint David, and there sojourned three days and three nights.

9. From thence he sailed across to Ireland to the island of Aruin, in which he remained for four years, and built a church there in honour of Almighty God. His kinsman Cyngar was an old man, for whom saint Cybi bought a cow with its calf, because other food he was not able to eat by reason of his old age. And there his disciples bravely tilled the land.

10. One day it happened that one of the disciples of saint Cybi, Maelog by name, went to dig the ground at the door of the lodging of Crubtthir Fintam. And Crubthir Fintam, seeing him, being angry, came to stop him, and said, `Dig not the ground at the door of my lodging.' Then saint Cybi and Fintam went out together to the abbot of the island of Aruin, who was called Enna, and he pacified them. But it chanced one day that the calf of Cyngar's cow went into the corn of Crubthir Fintam, and the disciples of Crubthir Fintam came, and took the calf, and bound it to a great tree.

11. And saint Cybi sent one of his disciples to Crubthir Fintam that he might loose the calf; and he loosed it not, but Crubthir Fintam continued still in his anger. But the holy saint Cybi prayed the Lord that the calf might come to its mother, because the old man, Cyngar was almost dead by reason of lack of milk, for without her calf that cow gave no milk.

12. God heard the prayer of saint Cybi, and in wondrous fashion sent the calf to its mother together with that tree, to which it was tied, and together with its roots. Then Crubthir Fintam prayed the Lord that he might put to flight and delete saint Cybi from the island of Aruin, because God loved him. And an angel of the Lord came in a dream to saint Cybi, and said to him `Go from this island towards the east.' To whom saint Cybi replied, saying, 'May God delete Crubthir Fintam from this island. And the angel said `So will it be.'

13. Then saint Cybi came to the south side of the region of Meath, and there he remained forty days and forty nights. And he built there a church, which to this day is called the great church of Mochop. Crubthir Fintam, hearing that saint Cybi dwelt there, came and said to him, `Go to another place. Mine is this land as well. Then saint Cybi fasted three days that God might show him what then he should do. And the same angel said to saint Cybi, `Go eastwards.' And saint Cybi did so, and came to the plain of Bregh. And there he remained seven days. And again on hearing it Crubthir Fintam, his adversary, came to him and said to saint Cybi, `Go to another place.' Then saint Cybi said `I pray Almighty God that he may show me what I am to do.' To whom the angel said, `Go to the south.' And he did so.

14. And he came to the region of Vobyun, and there sojourned twelve days. Still Crubthir Fintam followed him, and said to him, `Cybi, go across the sea.' Then saint Cybi, angered, said to him, May all thy churches be so much deserted that there may never be found three churches [and men] singing at thine altar in the island of Ireland.'

15. Then saint Cybi sent his disciples to a wood to cut timber for a boat. And immediately they cut, and built it. And the boat being done, Crubthir Fintam came, and said to them `Enter into the boat without hide, if ye be servants of God.' To whom saint Cybi replied speaking in prophetical response, `God is wonderful in his saints. The God of Israel himself will give strength and endurance to His people. Blessed be God.' And saint Cybi said to his disciples, `Place the boat on the sea.' And they placed it. And saint Cybi entered the boat, lacking hide, with his disciples. And immediately a strong wind came on the sea, and his disciples feared greatly, and saint Cybi prayed powerfully to God, by whose prayer God divided a rock into two parts, and the boat leapt up between the two rocks, and at last they landed on the island of Anglesey. Then saint Cybi struck there a crag with his bachall, and straightway water flowed.

16. Then saint Cybi came to the place, which is called Cundab, and there sojourned awhile. And he said to one of his disciples, to wit, Caffo, `Go, bring us fire.' And Caffo went to the house of a certain smith, Magurn by name. And Magurn asked the disciple `Whence comest thou?' The disciple replied `From my master Cybi have I come.' And Magurn asked him what he would have. To which the disciple answered `I would have fire.' And Magurn said, `I will not give thee fire, unless thou carry it in thy bosom.' And Caffo said, `Put the fire in my bosom.' And Magurn placed it. And straightway Caffo returned to his master, Cybi, carrying the fire put in his bosom, and not even the hem of his cloak was burnt.

17. At that time king Maelgwn was reigning over the provinces of Gwynedd. One day it happened that he went out to the mountainous regions to hunt. Seeing a she-goat, he incited his molossian (i.e. dog) to seize her. Then the she-goat ran quickly for protection to saint Cybi's cottage. And saint Cybi said to his disciple Caffo, `Withdraw from me; we cannot be together.' And he came to the town, which is called to-day Merthyr Caffo, and there the herdsmen of Rhosyr kill Caffo. And so the blessed Cybi cursed the herdsmen of Rhosyr with their mistress. And the she-goat found protection.

18. And king Maelgwn pursued her as far as Cybi's cottage. And the king said to him `Let go the she-goat.' And Cybi said, `I will not let her go, unless thou grant her protection of life.' And the king, angry, said, If thou dost not let her go, I will eject thee altogether from this land'. And the blessed Cybi said, It is not in thy power to eject me from this land, but it is in the power of God. But still I will let go this she-goat for thee, if thou wilt sacrifice to Almighty God and to me the whole land, which she may go about in front of thy molossian (i.e. dog).' And the king said `Freely will I sacrifice it.' And saint Cybi let go the she-goat, and the molossian followed her through the whole ridge, and she returned again to the cottage of saint Cybi.

19. And afterwards a conflict arose between king Maelgwn and saint Cybi, but he was not able to withstand the servant of God. And so he conveyed his fortress to Almighty God and the holy Cybi as a perpetual offering of alms.

20. And there he slept in Christ with great honour on the sixth day before the Ides of November. And a multitude of angels came, and took his most holy soul to heaven in the company of the patriarchs and prophets, in the unity of the apostles and evangelists, in the unity of the martyrs and confessors, in the unity of virgins and all the righteous saints, in the unity of the heavenly church, where is day without night, tranquillity without fear, joy without end. Where are the seven eternal things, life without death, youth without old age, joy without sadness, peace without discord, light without darkness, health without pain, a kingdom without change. Blessed are they who dwell with Abel and Enoch and Noah, with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, with Moses and Aaron and Joshua the son of Nun, and with the twelve prophets and with the twelve apostles, and with all the saints from the beginning of the world to the end, with the twenty orders of angels, with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, in peace and gladness and in purity and in youthfulness, without hunger and without nakedness, with abundance for the whole body, without any ill, about a young, bountiful, beautiful, eternal King. We pray Almighty God that we may deserve to possess that blessedness through the intercession of the blessed Cybi for ever and ever, Amen.

Composed in Cemis, Pembrokeshire, in the 12th C. Found in the British Museum Cotton MS Vespasian A xiv.

Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae. ed. A. W. Wade-Evans. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1944.

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