Thursday, 25 August 2016
St Govan's Chapel ~ the final resting place of Sir Gawain? #Wales
Let me tell you a story...
There was once an Irish monk named Govan, who was travelling to Wales to visit family. The journey was uneventful until he reached Pembrokeshire. Here he was set upon by pirates. All hope was lost, until the cliff opened up and left a fissure just big enough for him to crawl into. Legend states that the cliff then folded itself around him, keeping Govan hidden from his pursuers. How fabulous is that?
But hold your horses, there is more...
So grateful was Govan for such divine intervention, that he decided that this was the perfect place for a hermitage.
Now, Govan built his little chapel and he had a beautiful little bell. All was right with the world. Alas, those pirates came one night and stole the bell. Disaster.
But fear not, for the divine would intervene again. Some Angel's came down from Heaven and stole the bell back…
I don't know why that bit of the legend appeals to me so much, but it does.
Turn in next week for another exciting episode of,
Angels v. Pirates.
Who will win?!...
Obviously, the Angels won and they gave the bell back to Govan.
But what was to the stop the pirates coming back and stealing the bell again?
The Angels came up with a cunning plan. If they were to encase the bell into a huge stone, then no one, not even those pirates, would be able to steal it again. Clever!
Now, I know what you are thinking. How can you peal a bell when it is encased in stone? For Govan, this was surprisingly easy, and boy did he make that bell ring. I don't know how just take my word for it.
But that is not all. There is more. The legend states that you can still see Govan's handprints on the floor of the cave, and it is reputed that he is buried under the chapels alter. And for many years if you wanted your wishes to come true then this is where you should go to ask them.
But...we aren't interested in that version of history. Hell, no. We want to hear the Arthurian one.
Okey-dokey. Right. Now stretch your imagination a little. Govan ~ sounds a bit like Gawain, or vice-versa. Is Govan actually a corruption of Gawain? Who knows!
Gawain will fit. He will be associated with this chapel. One way or the other. So here goes...
We all know the story of how Lancelot killed Gawain's brothers in his bid to rescue Guinevere from the pyre and how Gawain travelled to Brittany to seek his revenge. Lancelot didn't want to fight him, but Gawain wouldn't back down. Lancelot accidently kills him in a duel etc…etc...
Ah, but wait. In this story, Gawain doesn't die by Lancelot's hands. Oh no. When Arthur dies, Gawain, like many other knights, decides to live a life of simplicity and peace. He travels all the way to Pembrokeshire in Wales and he becomes a hermit. He builds a chapel, and this is where he spends the rest of his days. Gawain is even buried under the chapel's alter.
See, we can make him fit.
I have to be honest; I love both versions of the legend. It is just perfect. Much like that little chapel.