Beuno, born in 545 AD, was a 6th-century Welsh abbot, confessor, and patron saint of sick children. He was said to have been born at Berriew in Powys and to have been the grandson of a prince of the local dynasty, which descended from Vortigern, king of Britain. After education and ordination in the monastery at Bangor in northern Wales, he became an active missionary with the support of Cadfan, king of Gwynedd. Cadfan’s son and successor Cadwallon deceived Beuno about some land and when the saint demanded justice, proved unsympathetic. Thereupon, Cadwallon’s cousin Gwyddaint “gave to God and Beuno forever” his land at Clynnog Fawr on the Llŷn peninsula.
In his lifetime, Beuno was credited with raising seven people from the dead, including his niece, the virgin Winefride (Gwenffrewi), and his disciple and cousin, Aelhaiarn. Winefride has her own dedicated chapel at Holywell where Beuno’s stone from his original pulpit can still be found at the side of the well. The Holywell chapel is well worth a visit and there is a interpretation centre which covers the story of Winefride’s life, death and resurrection at the hands of her uncle.
Following a life time of passionate evengelism, Beuno returned to Clynnog and remained there for the rest of his days, dying on 21st April AD 640.
St. Beuno was buried in a chapel on the south-west side of the church. It is said to have been destroyed by those searching for his relics. His holy well, Ffynnon Feuno, is about 200 yards from the church. In former days, rickety and epileptic children, as well as impotent folk generally were dipped in it and then carried to the chapel then put to lie overnight on the saint’s tombstone. If they slept, they would be cured. A custom that survived until the early nineteenth century was one of making offerings of calves and lambs which happened to be born with a slit in the ear, popularly called Beuno’s Mark. These “sacred beasts” were brought to church on Trinity Sunday and the church-wardens who sold them put the proceeds into Cyff Beuno (Beuno’s chest). Into the chest also went the offerings of persons who came from distant parts of the country, even down to the early nineteenth century, to propitiate the saint on behalf of their cattle when afflicted with some disorder. When the chest was opened in December 1688, it contained £15.8.3d. The money was used for church repairs and the relief of the poor.