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424: St Issui, Patrishaw, Wales
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St Issui, Patrishaw, Wales
Mystery Worshipper: Esmeralda Beakin.
The church: St Issui, Patrishaw, Wales.
Denomination: Church in Wales.
The building: This is a very ancient, tiny church hidden away in the folds of the Black Mountains north-west of Abergavenny. It has a cell at the west end which is supposed to be the original church; a hermit probably lived here in early medieval times. There are wall paintings and a 15th century carved screen. Down the hill from the church is the ancient saints' well where we held our service.
The church: There are a handful of houses scattered about in the area. The church is still used and has services twice a month.
The neighbourhood: It is remote and perched on the edge of the hillside facing a fold of the mountains – an idyllic spot. The well of St Issui is just off the road in a wooded glade beside a fast-running stream.
The cast: Rev. Richard Williams.
What was the name of the service?
A blessing and sprinkling at the well of St Issui.

How full was the building?
There were 11 of us beside the well and two others at the roadside.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Fr. Richard was waiting for us and introduced himself and his ancient dog, Jaffa. Jaffa was very happy to be with so many people.

Was your pew comfortable?
We stood on uneven ground for the 20 minute service. It was a warm day and the ground was dry, so it was fine.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Friendly and some chat as we walked down to the well and service sheets were distributed. An air of quiet expectation as we gathered round the well and Fr. Richard.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A service sheet specially printed for the occasion.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
Yes, I suppose the beauty and peace of the setting distracted me at one level, but at a deeper level it made me aware of God's good creation.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Gentle and very reverent. We knew what we were coming to and had been told what the service would entail. It was based on the service of sprinkling at the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

St Issui, Patrishaw, Wales

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Fr. Richard gave a short homily of around four minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – He was eloquent and deeply theological, but also poetical (he is a Welshman!).

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
About God's love for us in everyday things as well as in the sacred vessels and elements on the altar. God is present in us, in everyday actions, in the earth under our feet.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
All of it.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We all trudged up the hill to look around the church, which most of the group had not been to before, so it was much appreciated.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
We went on to Llanthony Abbey where the Abbey Hotel had promised us tea. Alas, the boiler had apparently broken so we had to have soft drinks or alcohol.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I lived near I would worship there, but it is almost two hours' journey from home.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Very much so.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Fr. Richard's sermon.

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