Saint Aidan in Wales
Aidan’s power and influence amongst the Britons of Wales appears to have been considerable. In one story, Aidan was encouraged by David and others to use his miraculous powers to cure the son of the King of the Britons, who was blind, deaf and lame. The boy was sent to Aidan, who prayed earnestly for his recovery and in due course the boy was miraculously cured. Following this miracle, we are told that Aidan’s name became known throughout the kingdom.
Stories like these illustrate that holy men such as Aidan were relied upon by the most powerful family in the kingdom. The ecclesiastics who wrote these stories, who would have been the successors of Aidan, undoubtedly wanted to impress this point on their own rulers.
Another story from Aidan’s period in Wales shows how events of the eleventh and twelfth centuries had an impact upon how Aidan’s story was communicated. It tells how the native Britons of Wales were confronted by the prospect of an invasion by a large Saxon army. Aidan was sent by David to the battlefield and prayed for the Britons, who were outnumbered by their Saxon foes. Following Aidan’s intercession, the Saxons turned and fled and were pursued and slaughtered by the Britons over the following seven days.
“Not one man of the Britons fell by the hands of the Saxons all that time through the favour of God and the miracles of Maedoc. And no Saxon invaded Britain while Maedoc was there after the manifestation of these miracles”. It is possible that this story was composed at a time when Wales was under threat of invasion by the Normans and can be interpreted as an attempt by the Welsh to warn off potential invaders.
“Life of Máedóc of Ferns” in C. Plummer (ed). Bethada Náem nÉrenn: Lives of the Irish Saints, Edited from the Original MSS. with Introduction, Translations, Notes, Glossary and Indexes, Vol. 2, The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1922.