British monk Gildas is one of the best-documented figures of the Christian church in the British Isles during the sub-Roman period and was renowned for his Biblical knowledge and literary style. The Preface of Gildas on Penance is attributed to him and included in it is a reference to penances for sodomy – but the type of sodomy is not specified.
THE PREFACE OF GILDAS ON PENANCE
- A presbyter or a deacon committing natural fornication or sodomy who has previously taken the monastic vow shall do penance for three years.
He shall seek pardon every hour and keep a special fast, once every week except during the fifty days following the Passion.
He shall have bread without limitation and a titbit fattened slightly with butter on Sunday; on the other days a ration of dry bread and a dish enriched with a little fat, garden vegetables, a few eggs, British cheese, a Roman half-pint of milk in consideration of the weakness of the body in this age, also a Roman pint of whey or buttermilk for his thirst, and some water if he is a worker.
He shall have his bed meagrely supplied with hay. For the three forty-day periods he shall add something as far as his strength permits.
He shall at all times deplore his guilt from his inmost heart.
Above all things let him show the readiest obedience.
After a year and a half he may receive the eucharist and come for the kiss of peace and sing the psalms with his brethren, lest his soul perish utterly from lacking so long a time the celestial medicine.
- If any monk of lower rank (does this), he shall do penance for three years, but his allowance of bread shall be increased. If he is a worker, he shall take a Roman pint of milk and another of whey and as much water as the intensity of his thirst requires.
- If, however, it is a presbyter or a deacon without monastic vow who has sinned, he shall do the same penance as a monk not in holy orders.
- But if a monk (merely) intends to commit (such) a thing (he shall do penance) for a year and a half. The abbot has authority, however, to modify this if his obedience is pleasing to God and the abbot.
- The ancient fathers commanded twelve (years) of penance for a presbyter and seven for a deacon.
Another similar penitential is Canon 8, of the Synod of the Grove of Victory, a church council held in Caerleon, around AD 569 officiated by Dewi Sant (Saint David)
‘he who commits the male crime as the Sodomists shall do penance for four years. But he who [had relations] between the thighs, [three] years. However, if by one’s own hand or the hand of another, two years.’