Tributes have been paid to former Bishop of Bangor, Saunders Davies, who died on Friday 30th March. Bishop Saunders served as Bishop of Bangor for five years, before his retirement in 2004. His entire ministry, spanning 40 years, had been spent in the Church in Wales, mostly in the Diocese of Bangor.
The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, said it was ‘poignant’ that Bishop Saunders died on Good Friday. He said, “The news of the death of Bishop Saunders Davies will cause sadness for many in the Church in Wales where he served faithfully for 40 years. Saunders was a gentle, holy and self-effacing individual, possessed of learning, a good mind and a warm heart.
“His last years were increasingly affected by Parkinson’s Disease which took an inevitably unkind toll on him. Despite the increasing grip of the disease, he manged to write to me on my election as Archbishop, and I can picture, in my mind’s eye, the card sent, which must have taken a tremendous effort to write. I was deeply touched to receive it.
“There are, in church life, often notable ‘partnerships’ of husband and wife and, in the case of Saunders, it was quite rare for him to be mentioned without mention also being made of his wife Cynthia, who supported him so fully and faithfully, and with whom he shared so very much of life, ministry and learning. To her, and the rest of the family, I extend the assurance of my love and prayers. That Saunders should leave this world on Good Friday is poignant. We pray that, free from frailty and infirmity, he will share the joy of Christ’s promise of new life.”
The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, added, “It is with great sadness that the death of the Bishop Saunders has been announced. Saunders served Bangor Diocese as a faithful incumbent, archdeacon and bishop.
“Our prayers and sympathies are with Cynthia, Siôn, Angharad and their families. A great and spiritual Welshman has gone to the Lord. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Bishop Saunders, who died aged 80, graduated from the University of Wales, Bangor, Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Bonn University. He trained for ordination at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, and began his ministry as a curate in Holyhead.
A fluent Welsh speaker, Saunders continued in Bangor Diocese as Rector of Llanllyfni, and a minor Canon at Bangor Cathedral before moving south to serve as Vicar of Gorseinon and Rural Dean of Llwchwr in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon. In 1983, he was appointed Vicar of Cardiff’s Welsh language church, Eglwys Dewi Sant, where he served for 10 years.
He returned to the north as Rector of Criccieth and Archdeacon of Meirionnydd. In 1999 he was elected Bishop of Bangor, which he remained until his retirement in 2004.
During his ministry, Bishop Saunders chaired the group that developed the Church in Wales’ Welsh language scheme.
Bishop Saunders (left) with his predecessors as Bishop of Bangor, Barry Morgan (centre) and the late Cledan Mears