Sellack is the only English Church dedicated to the Celtic Saint Tysilio – there are reputedly seven other churches founded by him in Brittany and in Wales. Possibly the most famous being Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!
Tysilio lived in the 7th century and was the son of Baochwel Ysgythrog ap Cyney ap Cadill and Arddyn (daughter of Pabo Post Prydain, said to have been Bishop of St. Asaph). He was born at Pengwern (Shrewsbury) and his father was king of Powys.
A military career was intended for him, but this was certainly not his wish, being of a peaceable nature and something of a bard (he is said to have written an ecclesiastical history of Britain). His father and family were furious at his refusal to ‘toe the line’ to such an extent that Tysilio fled to Abbot Gwyddfarch of Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod), Montgomeryshire to beg to become a monk.
In Meifod Tysilio remained in spite of his father’s entreaties and threats. Later, becoming restless, he decided to retire to Juys & Sulran on the Menia Straits where he founded a community with which he remained for 11 years and then returned to Meifod.
His father Baochwel, after the defeat of the Welsh, was succeeded by his son Iago who promptly died within two years of his succession. Iago’s widow then determined to marry Tysilio and to make him prince of Paulys Island but Tysilio, disliking his sister-in-law quite as much as he disliked the princely position, was content with his lot and refused her advances. The lady, so scorned, proceeded to make Tysilio’s life intolerable. He therefore fled to Brittany and settled near Male where he built a chapel. Whilst there he was informed of his sister-in-law’s death. Messengers begged him to return to Wales but he refused.
As a possible guide to help avoid confusion, this particular saint’s name is found spelt in a variety of ways – Teseliachus, Tesiliog, Syllyg, Suluc, Sulac... and no doubt a few more!
More information on St Tysilio can found in a copy of a The Venerable Clifford Offer's Address given at the Patronal Festival Service on 15th November 2015 - click here to read