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Keyna, is * said to have had twelve sons and twelve daughters by his lady, called Marcella, daughter of Theodoric son of Tethphalt, Prince of Garthmatrin, the same region called afterward Brecknock. Their first-born son was St. Canoc : and their eldest daughter was Gladus, who was mother of Cadocus by St. Gunley, a holy king of the southern Britons. The second daughter was Melaria, the mother of the holy Archbishop St. David. Thus writes Capgrave, neither doth he mention any of their children besides St. Keyna.
3. But in Giraldus Cambrensist another daughter is commemorated, called St. Almedha. And David Powelt makes mention of a fifth named Tydvaël, who was the wife of Congen the son of Cadel, Prince of Powisland ; and mother of Broch. mael, surnamed Scithroc, who slew Ethelfred King of the Northumbers.
4. Concerning the Holy Virgin St. Keyna, we find this narration in the author of her life, extant in Capgrave $ : “ She was of royal blood, being daughter of Braganus, Prince of Brecknockshire. When she came to ripe years many noble persons sought her in marriage ; but she utterly refused that state, having consecrated her virginity to our Lord by a perpetual vow. For which cause she was afterward by the Britons called Keyn-wiri, that is, Keyna the Virgin."
5. At length she determined to forsake her country and find out some desart place, where she might attend to contemplation. Therefore, directing her journey beyond Severn, and there meeting with certain woody places, she made her request to the prince of that country that she might be permitted to serve God in that solitude. His answer was, that he was very willing to grant her request, but that that place did so swarm with serpents that neither men nor beasts could inhabit in it. But she constantly replied, that her firm trust was in the name and assistance of Almighty God, to drive all that poisonous brood out of that region.
* Antiquit. Glaston. + Girald. Cambr. 1. i. c. 2. # D. Povvel in Annotat. ad Girald. $ Capgrav. in S. Keyna.
6. Hereupon the place was granted to the Holy Virgin ; who presently prostrating herself in fervent prayer to God, obtained of him to change all the serpents and vipers there into stones. And to this day the stones in that region do resemble the windings of serpents through all the fields and villages, as if they had been framed so by the hand of the engraver.
7. Our learned Camden, in his diligent search after antiquities, seems to have visited this country, being a part of Somersetshire, though he is willing to disparage the miracle. His words are, “ On the western bank of Avon is seen the town of Cainsham. Some are of opinion, that it was named so from Keyna, a most holy British Virgin, who, according to the credulous persuasion of former ages, is believed to have turned serpents into stones; because such like miracles of sporting nature are there sometimes found in the quarries. I myself saw a stone brought from thence representing a serpent rolled up into a spire: the head of it stuck out in the outward surface, and the end of the tail terminated in the centre.”
8. But let us prosecute the life of this holy Virgin. Many years being spent by her in this solitary place, and the fame of her sanctity every where divulged, and many oratories built by her, her nephew St. Cadoc performing a pilgrimage to the Mount of St. Michael, met there with his blessed aunt, St. Keyna, at whose sight he was replenished with great joy. And being desirous to bring her back to her own country, the inhabitants of that region would not permit him. But afterward, by the admonition of an angel, the holy Maid returned to the place of her nativity, where, on the top of a hillock seated at the foot of a high mountain, she made a little habit. ation for herself; and by her prayers to God obtained a spring there to flow out of the earth, which, by the merits of the Holy Virgin, afforded health to divers infirmities.
9. But when the time of her consummation approached, one night she, by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, saw in a vision, as it were, a fiery pillar, the base whereof was fixed on her bed : now her bed was the pavement strewed over with a few branches of trees. And in this vision two angels appeared to her ; one of which approaching respectfully to her, seemed to take off the sackcloth with which she was covered, and instead thereof to put on her a smock of fine linen, and over that a tunic of purple, and last of all a mantle all woven with gold. Which having done, he thus said to her, “ Prepare yourself to come with us, that we may lead you into your heavenly Father's kingdom.” Hereupon she wept with excess of joy, and endeavouring to follow the angels she awaked, and found her body inflamed with a fever, so that she perceived her end was near.
10. Therefore, sending for her nephew Cadocus, she said to him, “ This is the place above all others beloved by me: here my memory shall be perpetuated. This place I will often visit in spirit if it may be permitted me. And I am assured it shall be permitted me, because our Lord has granted me this place as a certain inheritance. The time will come when this place shall be inhabited by a sinful people, which notwithstanding I will violently root out of this seat. My tomb shall be a long while unknown, till the coming of other people whom by my prayers I shall bring hither : them will I protect and defend; and in this place shall the name of our Lord be blessed for ever.”
11. After this, her soul being ready to depart out of her body, she saw standing before her a troop of heavenly angels, ready joyfully to receive her soul, and to transport it without any fear or danger from her spiritual enemies. Which, having told to those who stood by, her blessed soul was freed from the prison of her body on the eighth day before the Ides of Oc. tober. In her dissolution her face smiled, and was all of a rosy colour; and so sweet a fragrancy proceeded from her sacred virgin body, that those who were present thought themselves in the joy of Paradise. St. Cadocus buried her in her own oratory, where for many years she had led a most holy mortified life, very acceptable to God.
Church History of Brittany, Book X. Ch. 14.
Such is the history of St. Keyne as related by F. Serenus Cressy, permissu superiorum, et approbatione Doctorum! There was evidently a scheme of setting up a shrine connected with the legend. In one part it was well conceived, for the Cornu Ammonis is no where so frequently found as near Keynsham; fine specimens are to be seen over the doors of many of the houses there, and I have often observed fragments among the stones which were broken up to mend the road. The Welsh seem nearly to have forgotten this saint. Mr. Owen, in his Cambrian Biography, enumerates two daughters of Brychan, Ceindrech and Ceinwen, both ranked among saints, and the latter having two churches dedicated to her in Mona. One of these is probably St. Keyne.
A Well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen"; There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the Well of St. Keyne.
An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,
And behind does an ash-tree grow, And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the Well of St. Keyne ;
Joyfully he drew nigh,
And there was not a cloud in the sky.