Lanivet Church, Cornwall
Lanivet Church in Lanivet, near Bodmin in Cornwall is an ancient church on an ancient site. In the churchyard there are two medieval Celtic crosses, one from 10th century, the other the 12th century. There are also other inscribed stones and tombs indicating the historical nature of the site. There is dispute over the name. Some say it is derived from ‘lan’ meaning a holy place and ‘neved’ meaning pagan. Alternatively people say it is named after Nevet, one of Brychan’s daughters. I lean towards the latter interpretation as so many of his children founded prayer communities in the region and there was a thriving Celtic monastic community down the road at Bodmin. There seems to be a current trend to paganise many of these sites in write ups and devalue their Christian origins and heritage. However it can’t be known for certain. There are so many Celtic crosses (15 or so) in this parish that you stumble across them down many of the country lanes in very out of the way places. Often these were way markers for pilgrims crossing the centre of Cornwall from Padstow to Fowey on The Saints Way. It’s possible the original Christian settlement started at Lamorrick which is nearby rather than Lanivet.
I went with great expectations knowing that there were so many Celtic Christian signs within the parish still existing. However the church wasn’t a welcome atmosphere. It didn’t help that it’s dirty and dilapidated, clearly run down with a leaky roof so everywhere smelled of decay. This seemed to reflect the spiritual state though and my expectation began to lessen as I wandered around. Yet, as is so often the way, it pays to ask God’s Spirit for revelation rather than the using our natural senses. The moment I did this I became aware of His presence near the place where a rood screen would have been. A surprising peace descended over me like a warm comfort blanket. I found myself humming the old song ‘There’s a river, there’s a river, there’s a river flowing over me’ which I’d recently had at St Columb Minor church just last week. I haven’t thought of the song for several decades. This wasn’t a coincidence.
I went up to kneel at the altar rail and pray. Angels in cream immediately came to minister to me. I asked God's Spirit if there was anything ancient here that He wanted to reveal. I went into a vision back in time where I could see a high green hill. A huge cross was on the top of it, easily visible. I thought it might even be Beacon Hill in Bodmin which can be seen for miles around, but on leaving the church realised it was actually the hill right behind the church which I hadn’t previously noticed. I watched as angels were ascending into heaven and descending just like in Jacob’s Ladder. There was light, fire and gold flowing from the cross on the hill in every direction. It looked exactly how I think Heaven’s glory coming to earth might look.
The scene changed and I was watching a woman on a mule travelling through a wooded valley following a stream. She stops and at that place establishes a prayer place. I watch her take out a smallish shining cross, about one foot high which she sets up as an altar. I hear the words, ‘truth, justice, purity’. In the clearing she’s created people begin to gather and I watch her lovingly bathing feet. However, local warlords approach to threaten the people and I watch as she steps forward courageously whilst people cower behind her. She fights for justice for the people and declares their freedom from tyranny. Her courage and boldness are palpable, with no care about her own safety. The warlords retreat.
After this vision I found myself proclaiming that freedom, justice, truth and purity would once more be established in this place and go forth in every direction.
My friend who was praying with me saw another angel who was carrying the fire of God. He appeared really sad and she was reminded of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 where only half of them had oil in their lamps as they waited for the bridegroom to return. She felt God’s grief that somehow the love of the world and the love of money had come to the fore, even the adulation of the Celtic Christian links, rather than a pure consecrated faith in Jesus Christ. She prayed and watched the fire angel walking through the church releasing fire with fury and it was ferocious fire which was devastating, burning up everything which was not of God. However, then the church once more became a beacon to the lost at the most critical times of need.
So this was a sobering visit. One where God’s sadness was evident but also in a measure His wrath. Yet, as is always the case with God, there was hope attached that even when His fire it sent, it is for eventual good to come out of it. I focus on the glory being released once more from the cross on the hilltop, to flow in every direction.