The first Vita - Vita Gildae auctore monacho Ruiensi

   This ‘Life’, known as the Vita Gildae auctore monacho Ruiensi, which is dated to the eleventh century but possibly based on ninth-century material, was written by an anonymous ‘monk of Rhuys’ in Brittany.

Gildas was born as one of five sons of Caunus (Caw) in Arecluta (Clydeside, Strathclyde), one of these sons being the warrior Cuillus (Huail), the others (Mailocus, Egreas, and Alleccus) all hermits and ecclesiastics, as was their sister Peteova (Peithien). Gildas studies with St. Illtud, together with Samson and Paul. After these studies, Gildas went to Ireland and later preached in North Britain. Gildas made a bell for St. Brigit. He then returned to Ireland to restore churches (at the request of the Irish king Ainmere, AD 566-569). He then went to Rome and Ravenna, before returning, at the age of 30, to Armorica in the time of Childeric (AD 457- 481!). The Life mentions that Gildas wrote the Epistola (below) 10 years after leaving Britain. Gildas died on January 29. Here ends the first Life.

   Gildas’ visit to Ireland is confirmed by the Annales Cambriae, which suggest Gildas sailed for Ireland in 565 and died in 570, which is also the year of his death in the Annals of Tigernach. Modern opinion seems to agree that Gildas never left Ireland after his second visit, and that the second part of the Life is about another saint, possibly St. Gueltas of Ruys. This Gueltas would then have been born c. 427, which would be confirmed by an otherwise enigmatic entry in the chronicle of Mont St. Michel:

Aliud chronicon ejusdem montis [S. Michaelis in periculo maris] col. 1323:

Ann. 421- Natus est S. Gildas