Rhidian and the Light
Thirteen centuries ago there lived a priest called Rhidian, who
looked after a small church in the Gower peninsula (in South Wales). He went
on a special journey - a pilgrimage to St. Davids.
His journey was long and difficult. Since the Romans had left Britain the roads had become overgrown and so he had to travel on the rough tracks. However, he was determined to visit the place where Saint David had built his monastery and where David was now buried. Like many other Christians he believed that if he went to this holy site, he would feel closer to God and receive a special blessing.
When Rhidian arrived in St. Davids he prayed to God and made an offering (a gift) to the monastery.
Like all pilgrims, he wanted to take something back with him
from St. Davids - something which would remind him of his pilgrimage and which
would bring him closer to God. So before leaving, he took the small lamp he
had brought with him and lit it with the flame which burnt at the altar of Davids
shrine. Carefully he guarded the flame on his way home, protecting it from the
winds which whistled through the trees.
Weary and tired from his travels, Rhidian stopped to spend the night at the house of a friend called Gwynor. Gwynor welcomed Rhidian to his home. During the cold night they sat down to eat a simple meal together and talked about Rhidians wonderful visit to St. Davids.
As they talked, Gwynor noticed that Rhidian often glanced at his lamp. He wondered why Rhidian was wasting the precious oil; the house was already lit, so why was Rhidian keeping his lamp alight?
Gwynor was curious and asked his friend about this. Rhidian replied that he was keeping the light burning because the flame was sacred; it had come from the shrine of St. David and he wanted to take it back to his own church, where its light could be seen by all.
Gwynor thought this was such a wonderful idea that he asked Rhidian
if he could share the flame as well, so that he too could light his church with
the sacred flame from Davids monastery.
Rhidian hesitated for a moment. Should he give away some of the light? He had walked many miles through valleys and across rivers to travel to St. Davids and back. The flame was precious to him.
However, he was a Christian. He knew that the flame would be cherished by Gwynor and the people in his church, so he kindly agreed to share the sacred flame with his friend. The feeling of warmth he had from sharing the light made him feel good inside. The two priests finished the evening by praying to God before going to sleep.
The next morning Rhidian set off on the last lap of his journey home. He did not have far to travel, but the weather was changing for the worse. Suddenly he found himself enveloped in a cloak of white as a blizzard of snow and wind swept in from the sea. As his lamp swung in the sudden gust of wind, it blew out the flickering flame. Rhidian felt despair; his precious light from Davids shrine had gone.
As Rhidian stood in despair, with the wind whistling and the snow swirling around him, he remembered that he had shared his light with his friend Gwynor. A look of joy spread across his face - all was not lost.
Quickly he turned back towards Gwynors house. As he walked through the thickening blanket of snow he remembered how he had almost kept the light to himself. He was so pleased that he had shared the flame.
When he reached Gwynors house his friend was only too willing to let him share the flame from his lamp. Because Rhidian had shared the light, Gwynor was now able to repay his kindness by sharing the light with him. Rhidian said to himself, "I would never have had this light unless I had given it away."
Many thanks to Cathy Morton for use of these illustrations.