20th February

Melangell And The Hare

The Lord said to Moses ‘Choose six cities of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners…’ Numbers 35: 13,15

Melangell was the daughter of an Irish King who, in order to escape a forced marriage, fled to Wales and settled as a hermit for Christ at Pennant in Powys.

In 604 the Prince of Powys went hunting at Pennant. His hounds chased a hare into the thicket of thorns where Melangell had built her hermit’s hut. There he discovered the pure and beautiful Melangell, sheltering the hare under the folds of her cloak as she prayed. The prince shouted to his hounds to catch the hare, but they must have sensed a presence more powerful than their urge to catch the hare, for they gradually went further and further away, despite all their owner’s shouting.

The Prince was astonished. He asked the young woman who she was and Melangell told him her story. This made a deep impression on him. Eventually he said to her: ‘Because Almighty God was pleased to protect this little hare through you, I will give you land which you may use for the service of God, and also as an animal sanctuary.’

This, according to tradition, is the reason why Pennant Melangell became a place of sanctuary for humans as well as for animals. Melangell remained a hermit there for another thirty seven years. Her biographer states: ‘And the hares, wild little animals, just the same as tame animals, were in a state of familiarity with her every day throughout her whole life’

You look after even the smallest of your creatures
and even the least of your children.
You are our refuge.
With you we are safe.
I pray for all people suffering abuse in their homes,
for all animals who are mistreated
and for myself;
protect me from all that would harm either body or soul today.