Llandaff is subdivided into over 100 parishes (or, more correctly, benefices), and these are grouped together on a formal or informal basis. Each parish will be under the authority of a member of the clergy, who can be a Priest in Charge, Vicar, Rector, or hold another title.
The Diocese of Llandaff is the most populous of all six Dioceses in Wales. It covers an area taking in the west of Cardiff in the east to Neath in the west, and the Heads of the Valleys road in the north.
The Diocese is divided into three Archdeaconries, which are further subdivided into Deaneries. Each Deanery comprises a number of separate parishes.
History of the Diocese
Nearly half the population of Wales lives in the Diocese of Llandaff- well over a million people in the most densely populated and industrial area of the Welsh Dioceses.
Cardiff, Port Talbot, Merthyr Tydfil, the Rhondda Valleys – these are places once famous the world over for coal, iron and steel. The heavy industry has now in the most part been replaced by new technology, and along the M4 corridor, new factories have sprung up to provide components for microchip-based goods.
The Diocese of Llandaff has some of the most beautiful countryside, towns and seascapes in Wales, from the Heritage Coast of the Vale of Glamorgan in the south to the deep-scarred Valleys of the Blaenau in the north.
It was Irish monks who first made efforts to establish the Christian faith in the area known as Morgannwg, during the 5th and 6th centuries. The founder of the Celtic monastery at Llancarfan, Cadoc, ruled Morgannwg as abbot-king. Illtud established a monastery school at Llantwit Major, which achieved considerable fame, producing manuscripts and intricately carved stone monuments, a number of which remain in the present church there. Dyfrig (c450-540) is remembered as the first bishop for the area, to be succeeded by Teilo.
However it was the third bishop, Euddogwy, who settled at Llandaff in the late 6th Century, creating the Celtic “kingdom- bishopric”. The first Norman bishop of Llandaff, Urban, began in 1121 to build a new stone cathedral, parts of which remain – huge pillars, thick walls and some beautiful arches. Urban added two names to the dedication of the cathedral, and so it is today known as the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul, with Dyfrig, Teilo and Euddogwy.
Llandaff Cathedral has had a chequered history of construction and ruin, the most recent devastation occurring on the 2nd January 1941 when it was very seriously damaged by a landmine. The Cathedral was subsequently restored with the addition of the work, most notably the concrete arch and pulpitum, surmounted by Sir Jacob Epstein’s Majestas.
The Middle Ages saw the building of many of the present churches in the diocese, particularly in the Vale and coastal areas. Many were under the patronage of the two Cistercian Abbeys of the diocese, at Margam and Neath. The Church responded to the great industrial advance of the 19th Century by providing the growing population of the Valleys with churches and schools.
The Valleys parishes were well staffed, and in 1892 St. Michael’s Theological College was founded at Aberdare, ensuring a satisfactory training for clergy. The great depression of the I 930s presented particular problems, but Bishop Timothy Rees CR inspired confidence through forceful preaching and missionary zeal.
The more recent social and economic changes have produced problems and tensions within the diocese, with the rise in unemployment and social deprivation, particularly in the Valleys, but the Church has sought to play its part alongside other agencies. The Church is also responding to the spiritual challenges of our age, and moves forward with hope, under God’s direction and guidance.