Our Patron Saint
As many residents of our community know, the local area was settled by many people of Welsh ancestry. When out and about the countryside and villages, it is not uncommon to see the red Welsh dragon prominently displayed flying on flags or the side of barns. It is for the Welsh heritage of the local area for which our parish is named.
Saint David (Welsh: Dewi Sant, Latin: Davidus; c. 500 – c. 589) was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw (now St David's) during the 6th century; he was later regarded as a saint. He is the patron saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life. However, his birth date is uncertain: suggestions range from 462 to 512. He is traditionally believed to be the son of Saint Non and the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, king of Ceredigion. The Welsh annals placed his death 569 years after the birth of Christ, but Phillimore's dating revised this to 601.
The tradition that he was born at Henfynyw (Vetus-Menevia) in Ceredigion is not improbable. He became renowned as a teacher and preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Dumnonia, and Brittany. St David's Cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire. Around 550, he attended the Synod of Brefi, where his eloquence in opposing Pelagianism caused his fellow monks to elect him primate of the region. As such he presided over the synod of Caerleon (the "Synod of Victory") around 569.
His best-known miracle is said to have taken place when he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd at the Synod of Brefi: the village of Llanddewi Brefi stands on the spot where the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill. A white dove, which became his emblem, was seen settling on his shoulder. David is said to have denounced Pelagianism during this incident and he was declared archbishop by popular acclaim. St David's metropolitan status as an archbishopric was later supported by Bernard, Bishop of St David's, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales.
Though the exact date of his death is not certain, tradition holds that it was on March 1, which is the date now marked as Saint David's Day. The two most common years given for his death are 601 and 589. The monastery is said to have been "filled with angels as Christ received his soul." His last words to his followers were in a sermon on the previous Sunday. The Welsh Life of St David gives these as, "Lords, brothers and sisters, Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. And as for me, I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." "Do ye the little things in life" ("Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd") is today a very well known phrase in Welsh.
David was buried at St David's Cathedral at St David's, Pembrokeshire, where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. During the 10th and 11th centuries the Cathedral was regularly raided by Vikings, who removed the shrine from
the church and stripped off the precious metal adornments. In 1275 a new shrine was constructed, the ruined base of which remains to this day, which was originally surmounted by an ornamental wooden canopy with murals of David, Patrick and Denis. The relics of David and Justinian of Ramsey Island were kept in a portable casket on the stone base of the shrine. It was at this shrine that Edward I came to pray in 1284.
David was officially recognized at the Holy See by Pope Callixtus II in 1120.
In the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology, David is listed under 1 March with the Latin name Dávus. He is recognised as bishop of Menevia in Wales who governed his monastery following the example of the Eastern Fathers. Through his leadership, many monks went forth to evangelise Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Armorica (Brittany and surrounding provinces).
A broadside ballad published around 1630 claimed that the Welsh wore a leek in their hats to commemorate a battle fought on St David's Day. So as to recognize friend from foe, the Welsh had pulled up leeks from a garden and put them in their hats, before going on to win the battle.
He is usually represented standing on a little hill, with a dove on his shoulder.