A CARPET of Snowdrops, thought to date from the 13th Century, is beginning to appear in the churchyard of Llantysilio in time for the church’s annual Snowdrop service, next month.

St Tysilio’s, famed for its stunning location overlooking the Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee, near Llangollen, will hold its snowdrop service on Sunday, February 9 at 3pm.

The service, which is open to all, celebrates the Church Feast of Candlemas. It was custom in medieval times to bring Snowdrops into church to be presented during the feast. The snowdrop is a symbol of purity and of Jesus Christ being the hope for the world.

The service coincides with the launch of a consultation on rural churches, asking how churches in the Diocese of St Asaph, like St Tysilio’s can better meet the needs of the community, from near and far.

The consultation is being shaped by a working group chaired by the church warden at St Tysilio’s John Gambles.

Mr Gambles said: “Our church is open every day of the year, and our very many visitors enrich us with the prayers that they leave, and their comments in the visitor’s book. Many people return frequently to enjoy the special peace of the place.

“At this time of year the churchyard at St Tysilio’s has a breath-taking display of snowdrops, heralding that spring is on its way, and we have a stream of visitors who come specially to see the tiny flowers and how they stretch like a carpet across the church yard.”

“Rural communities are very much in touch with the seasons and nature, and it could be that ‘our’ snowdrops have been celebrated since the foundation of Valle Crucis Abbey in 1201 as there is evidence that monks often brought the tiny flowers that are native to the East Mediterranean, to plant as a symbol of their own purity.”

“I’d encourage people to join us for our snowdrop service at which we celebrate God’s creation through this simple flower that symbolises the light that shines in the darkness. And do join us for cake, tea and coffee afterwards!”

The consultation on rural ministry will hold a series of listening events throughout the spring to look at how the church can better engage with people and communities, and share the Christian faith more widely, especially with young children and families, the farming community and those living isolated lives.

The Vicar of Llantysilio, Father Lee Taylor who will lead the snowdrop service said: “The snowdrop service is an opportunity to give thanks for God’s gift in creation. Christians believe that, as global citizens, we have a duty to work for the sanctification of the whole world and care for our green spaces.

“The service will also focus on the hope of spring bringing restoration and new beginnings.

“The readings, poems, prayers and music at this service will reflect those whose work seeks to ‘protect’ the natural environment and promote care and respect for creation.

“Snowdrops will be placed on the altar and people will be invited to light a candle as a symbol of their commitment to caring for creation. Water will be blessed in watering cans and sprinkled over the snowdrops in our churchyard.”

St Tysilio’s is a grade II listed medieval church dedicated to the 7th century saint from Powys who lived all over Wales.

There’s been a place of worship on the site since then, but the current building is thought to date from the 16th Century. Inside the church there is a fine medieval oak roof and a rare medieval oak lectern.

The church overlooks the picturesque Horseshoe Falls, the starting point of Llangollen Canal, a World Heritage Site which includes the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Trevor.