Saint Derfel Gadarn

‘Derfel the Mighty’
Born: c. 566
Died: 6 April 660, Bardsey Island in Wales

A Welsh hermit and later a Celtic Christian monk in the sixth century. In Medieval Welsh tradition it is held that he was related to King Hywel of Brittany, and thus a brother of the saints Tudwal and Arthfael, and a cousin to Saint Cadfan.

In Welsh tradition it was said he was one of Arthur’s seven warriors who had taken part in, and survived, the battle of Camlann, “by his strength alone”. He is a noted warrior and Tudur Penllyn wrote in medieval Welsh poetry:

Derfel mewn rhyfel, gwnai'i wayw'n rhyfedd, Darrisg dur yw-r wisg, dewr yw'r osgedd

“Derfel in war, he would work his spear wondrously, steel covering is the garment, brave is the appearance”

When there were at Camlan men and fighting and a host being slain, Derfel with his arms was dividing steel there in two.

– Lewys Glyn Cothi

After the battle he choosed the religious life where he lived as a hermit. He then went into monastery in Llantwit. He founded a monastery in Llandderfel, Gwynedd, which is said to be named after him.

He served as the abbot of Ynys Enlli on Bardsey Island. He died of natural causes.