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The Church in Wales Diocese of Saint Asaph or Esgobaeth Llanelwy covers the north-east region of Wales and is named after Saint Asaph, its second bishop.
It contains the archdeaconries of St Asaph, Montgomery and Wrexham
The diocese stretches from the borders of Cheshire in the east, to the Conwy valley in the west, to Bala in the south-west, and Newtown in the south-east. The population is in excess of half a million people.
Most of the diocese is rural, interspersed with small market towns and village communities, but there are more populous areas along the coast and in the large conurbation of Wrexham, the principal town.
Traditionally, the Diocese of St Asaph contained many parishes which today form part of England. However, following the disestablishment of the Anglican church in Wales in 1920, the Shropshire parishes of Criftins, Hengoed, Kinnerley, Knockin, Llanyblodwell, Llanymynech, Melverley, Morton, Oswestry, St Martins, Selattyn, Trefonen, Weston Rhyn and Whittington were transferred from the Diocese of St Asaph to the English Diocese of Lichfield.
This diocese was founded by Kentigern (Welsh: Cyndeyrn) around the middle of the sixth century, when he was exiled from his see in Scotland. He founded a monastery called Llanelwy at the confluence of the rivers Clwyd and Elwy. After Kentigern's return to Scotland in 573 he was succeeded by Asaph (or Asa).
The diocese originally coincided with the ancient Welsh kingdom of Powys, but lost much territory by the Saxon encroachment from Mercia.
By 1291 the deaneries had been doubled in number and there were Cistercian houses at Basingwerk, Aberconwy, Strata Marcella and Valle Crucis, and a Cistercian nunnery at Llanllugan Abbey.
The cathedral, which had been burnt in the wars between Wales and England, was rebuilt and completed in 1295. It was a plain massive structure of simple plan, and was again destroyed during the English Wars of the Roses.
The chief shrines in the diocese were St. Winefred's Well, St. Garmon in Yale, St. Dervel Gadarn in Edeirnion, St. Monacella at Pennant and the Holy Cross at Strata Marcella. All these were demolished at the Anglican Reformation. At that time the diocese contained one archdeaconry, sixteen deaneries and one hundred and twenty-one parishes.
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