Saint Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, and she is celebrated throughout Wales annually on 25th January, much like the rest of the world do on Valentine’s Day.
To think of Saint Dwynwen is very much to think about love, as legend tells us she looks after all lovers, but her own story was that of heartbreak, and eventually strength.
She was the daughter of King Brychan, he inherited the Kingdom of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire, now Brecon). Legend has it that she was the prettiest of all the king’s daughters, and he had 24.
She fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but her father would not approve the marriage, as he had already arranged for her to marry someone else. Angered by his inability to marry Dwynwen, Maelon raged against her and the devastated Dwynwen fled into the woods.
There, she begged God to help her forget about Maelon, and indeed, God visited her in her sleep and gave her a potion to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.
God then granted Dwynwen three requests.
The first request was for God to thaw Maelon, for she had shown the strength through her heartbreak to move on. The second was that God would look kindly on the hopes and dreams of all true lovers, and the third request was to never marry herself.
All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen then spent the rest of her days as a nun, devoting her life to God and living out her life on Llanddwyn Island in Anglesey.
The remains of the church can still be found on the island, as can Dwynwen’s Well, which has become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers, where it is said that should the water boil in your presence when as a couple, this will bring good luck to you.