Bangor, Ancient See of

views updated


One of the four ancient Welsh dioceses growing out of the monastery of Bangor, Caernarvonshire, traditionally founded by St. Deiniol in the 6th century. Because wales was converted by Celtic monk missionaries of the "Age of Saints," Bangor, like other Welsh dioceses, was at first nonterritorial in character and depended on the affiliation of daughter churches to monastic mother churches in Gwynedd (northwest Wales). Chance very largely determined which of the leading Welsh monasteries should become permanent ecclesiastical sees. In 768 Elfodd, often called bishop of Bangor (more strictly, chief bishop of Gwynedd), took the lead in securing recognition of papal authority by the Welsh Church. After the Norman Conquest the boundaries of Bangor, which covered, broadly speaking, the modern counties of Anglesey, Caernarvon, and Merioneth, were delimited; and there were attempts to get Norman bishops elected and an oath of canonical obedience made to Canterbury. But the counter influence of the powerful native princes of Gwynedd usually sufficed to ensure the election of their own Welsh nominees. Even after the Edwardian Conquest (128283), and until late in the 14th century, the bishops chosen, often by papal provision, were usually Welsh. Thereafter, the bishops were ordinarily royal nominees, frequently royal confessors and friars. The cathedral at Bangor was rebuilt by Bishop Anian (12671305), who cooperated closely with Abp. john peckham. A fine pontifical belonging to Anian is still preserved at Bangor, and bishops' registers survive from the 16th century. The cathedral was partly destroyed during the Glyn Dêr Rebellion (140010). It remained in ruinous condition for most of the 15th century, when successive bishops complained of the extreme poverty of the see, rated in Valor ecclesiasticus at £ 131the poorest in England and Wales. Bp. Henry deane began the work of rebuilding, which was completed by Bishop Skeffington (150933). In 1558 Bangor's last Roman Catholic bishop-elect, Morys Clynnog, went into exile in Italy. Today Bangor is one of the six dioceses of the Church of Wales.

For information on the liturgical customs and usages of Bangor, see bangor use.

See Also: llandaff, ancient see of; saint asaph, ancient see of; saint davids, ancient see of.

Bibliography: A Bibliography of the History of Wales (2d ed. Cardiff 1962). j. c. davies, Episcopal Acts Relating to Welsh Dioceses, 10661272, 2 v. (Cardiff 194648). g. williams, The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation (Cardiff 1962).

[g. williams/eds.]