St Gildas was a British (Welsh) priest born perhaps in Northern Britain in the 5C. He was called ‘the Wise’ because of his great learning. He delivered a sermon, maybe early in the 6C called the ‘Ruin and Conquest of Britain’. He condemned kings and clergy like a prophet of the Old Testament, using imagery from the Books of Daniel and Revelation. Valuable though his book is, it is not clear why he regards his contemporaries in Wales with such unrelieved disdain. He mentions few names so we have little means of assessing the objectivity of his work.
St Gildas used the island of Steepholm in the Severn Estuary for solitude and prayer.
Though a priest he regarded the monastic life with favour. He wrote a Rule less severe than that of St David.
Tradition links him with Brittany where he lived in a cave over which is now built a church. He has at least three wells to his name in the region and is said to have been buried at Rhyus.