Saints of the Day – Dwynwen

Saint Dwynwen, artist unknownArticle

(also known as Donwen, Donwenna, Dunwen, Dwyn)

Died c.460. A Welsh saint of the family of Saint Brychan of Brecknock, Dwynwen coined the maxim, “nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness.” She settled in Anglesey, where the places names Llanddwyn and Porthdwyn recall her memory. Her church there was the destination of the sick and especially young men and women because she is the patron of Welsh lovers. Baring-Gould explains the reason for her patronage in The Golden Legend. Maelon wished to marry Dwynwen but she rejected him and prayed to be delivered. She dreamed that she was given a drink that cured her, but the drink turned Maelon to ice. Then she made three requests: that Maelon be defrosted, that all true-hearted lovers should either succeed in their quest or else be cured of their passion, and that she should never wish to be married. Accordingly, she became a nun.

In the Middle Ages Llanddwyn was a rich church due to the offerings left at the shrine and holy well by pilgrims. The movement of the fish in the holy well were believed to indicate the destiny of those who consulted it. This superstitious practice and the invocation of Dwynwen to cure sick animals survived the Reformation, probably because of its relative isolation. Churches dedicated to her are to be found in Wales and Cornwall (Benedictines, Farmer).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 May 2020. Web. 4 June 2020. <>