Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Asaph, Bishop and Confessor

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Asaph, Shrigley and Hunt, 1909; Thomas Becket chapel, Cathedral of Saint David, Pembrokeshire, Wales; photographed on 21 July 2011 by Wolfgang Sauber; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Kentigern, bishop of Glasgow, in Scotland, being driven from his own see, founded a monastery and episcopal chair on the banks of the river Elwy, in North Wales. Bishop Usher writes, from John of Tinmouth, that, in this abbey, nine hundred and sixty-five monks served God in great continence. Three hundred who were illiterate, this holy abbot appointed to till the ground, and take care of the cattle: other three hundred to do necessary work within the monastery; and three hundred and sixty-five he deputed to celebrate the divine office. These last never went out of the monastery, unless upon some urgent necessity, but attended continually in God’s sanctuary, being divided into companies, one of which began the divine office in the choir as another had finished it, and went out, as among the Acæmetes, at Constantinople: by this means the divine praises suffered no interruption in the church. Among these monks Saint Asaph shone as a bright light, most illustrious for his birth, virtues, and miracles. When Saint Kentigern was called back to Glasgow, he appointed Saint Asaph, the most distinguished for learning and piety among his disciples, abbot and bishop at Llan-Elwy. Our saint was a diligent preacher, and had frequently this saying in his mouth: “They who withstand the preaching of God’s word, envy the salvation of men.” Saint Asaph wrote certain canons or ordinances of his church, the life of Saint Kentigern, and some other works. He died about the close of the sixth century; for he flourished about the year 590. From him the see of Elwy took the name of Saint Asaph’s: though it continued long vacant; for we find no mention of any other bishop of Saint Asaph’s before the twelfth century, when Geoffrey of Monmouth was advanced to that episcopal chair.—Wharton gives him a predecessor named Gilbert,

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Asaph, Bishop and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 August 2018. Web. 13 June 2021. <>