St Dwynwen was the welsh patron saint of lovers, making her Wales’ equivalent to St Valentine. The name Dwynwen translates to “she who leads a blessed life”.
Santes Dwynwen/St Dwynwen’s Day is held on the 25th January and has enjoyed increased popularity throughout Wales over the passed few years especially in her home county of Anglesey.
The history behind Dwynwen’s story is that she was the prettiest daughter of the Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog, but she fell in love with a man named Maelon Dafodrill. Unfortunately, her father had already arranged for Dwynwen to marry someone else.
Dwynwen was extremely distraught and she prayed to God to ask for help in forgetting Maelon. That night an angel visited her whilst she slept and gave her a potion. This potion erased her memory of her feelings for Maelon and turned him into a block of ice.
But God provided Dwynwen with three wishes – her first wish was Maelon should be thawed, her second wish was that God would meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and thirdly that she would never marry. As all of her wishes were fulfilled, she gave her thanks by devoting herself to God’s service for the rest of her life.
Dwynwen set up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn, just off the coast of Anglesey and the remains of the church can still be seen on the island today along with Dwynwen’s well.
The well is believed to be filled with sacred fish that can predict if a couples relationship will succeed or not. If the fish are active when the couple visit the well, it is seen as a sign of a faithful partner.
Since Dwynwen’s death in the 5th century the well has become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers.