20th July

The Golden Rule

Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Leviticus 19:18

Teilo is celebrated in The Welsh Triads as one of the three blessed ‘Visitors of the Isle of Britain’, the other two being David and Padarn. He was greatly used in the Christian formation of Wales and Britanny in the 6th century, and one gets a sense of warm fellowship being generated throughout the many Christian communities that he helped to establish. He was born opposite Caldey Island and trained under Paulinus, where he met another pupil who was to be greatly used, David. When David started his main establishment at the modern St David’s, Teilo went with him; he was good at teamwork.

Teilo obtained grants of land and established many Christian communities. Notable among these was his own, which was probably at Great Llandeilo. Entries in the margin of the Gospels of St. Chad (written about 700) refer to him as the founder of a monastery known as ‘the Family of Teilo’. This was a prototype of the kind of community that was led by a monk who was also a bishop of his people. Such a monastery was the hearth, or hub, of a large extended family of Christians.

When the plague decimated the population in 547, Teilo led a mass exodus of Christians to Britanny, where he linked up with Samson who had settled at Dol. The two of them were said to have planted a big orchard of fruit trees, three miles long, reaching from Dol to Cai. He stayed there seven years and established further communities.

It is said that the hermit Cadoc once asked Teilo, ‘What is the greatest wisdom in a person?’ He answered ‘To refrain from injuring another person when one has the power to do so.’’. Teilo had the power to do so, but the winning quality of saints such as himself was that that they did not abuse power, they followed the golden rule ‘Do to others what you would like them to do to you’.

Teach me
Gentle Jesus of the cradle and the cross
To forego vengeance at all times
And to reach out my hands in love to all