|Born||Unknown, estimated at c. 500|
|Died||1 March 589|
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Canonized||1123, Rome, Holy Roman Empire (officially recognised) by Pope Callixtus II|
|Major shrine|| St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, Wales|
shrine largely extant,
controversial bones in casket
|Attributes||Bishop with a dove,|
usually on his shoulder, sometimes standing
on a raised hillock
|Patronage||Wales; Pembrokeshire; Naas; vegetarians; poets|
|Controversy||The earliest of the supposed bones of Saint David and Saint Justinian housed in a casket in the Holy Trinity Chapel of St David's Cathedral have been carbon-dated to the 12th century.|
Saint David (Welsh : Dewi Sant; Latin : Davidus; c. 500 – c. 589) was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw (now St Davids) during the 6th century. 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. His birth date, however, 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.
Many of the traditional tales about David are found in the Buchedd Dewi ("Life of David"), a hagiography written by Rhygyfarch in the late 11th century. Rhygyfarch claimed it was based on documents found in the cathedral archives. Modern historians are sceptical of some of its claims: one of Rhygyfarch's aims was to establish some independence for the Welsh church, which had refused the Roman rite until the 8th century and now sought a metropolitan status equal to that of Canterbury. (This may apply to the supposed pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he is said to have been anointed as an archbishop by the patriarch).
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. John Davies notes that one can scarcely "conceive of any miracle more superfluous" in that part of Wales than the creation of a new hill.David is said to have denounced Pelagianism during this incident and he was declared archbishop by popular acclaim according to Rhygyfarch, bringing about the retirement of Dubricius. 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.
The Monastic Rule of David prescribed that monks had to pull the plough themselves without draught animals, :and must drink only water and eat only bread with salt and herbs. The monks spent their evenings in prayer, reading and writing. No personal possessions were allowed: even to say "my book" was considered an offence. He lived a simple life and practised asceticism, teaching his followers to refrain from eating meat and drinking beer. His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek (this inspires a reference in Shakespeare's Henry V, Act V scene 1)
Fluellen: "If your Majesty is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps, which your Majesty knows, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service, and I do believe, your Majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day". King Henry: "I wear it for a memorable honour; for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman".
Rhigyfarch counted Glastonbury Abbey among the churches David founded.Around forty years later William of Malmesbury, believing the Abbey older, said that David visited Glastonbury only to rededicate the Abbey and to donate a travelling altar including a great sapphire. He had had a vision of Jesus who said that "the church had been dedicated long ago by Himself in honour of His Mother, and it was not seemly that it should be re-dedicated by human hands". So David instead commissioned an extension to be built to the abbey, east of the Old Church. (The dimensions of this extension given by William were verified archaeologically in 1921). One manuscript indicates that a sapphire altar was among the items Henry VIII of England confiscated from the abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries a thousand years later.
Though the exact date of his death is not certain, tradition holds that it was on 1 March, 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, "Arglwyddi, brodyr, a chwiorydd, Byddwch lawen a chadwch eich ffyd a'ch credd, a gwnewch y petheu bychain a glywsoch ac y welsoch gennyf i. A mwynhau a gerdaf y fford yd aeth an tadeu idi", which translates 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. The same passage states that he died on a Tuesday, from which attempts have been made to calculate the year of his death.
David was buried at St David's Cathedral at St Davids, 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 (see photo), 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. During the reformation Bishop Barlow (1536–48), a staunch Protestant, stripped the shrine of its jewels and confiscated the relics of David and Justinian.
David was officially recognised at the Holy See by Pope Callixtus II in 1120, thanks to the work of Bernard, Bishop of St David's. Music for his Liturgy of the Hours has been edited by O. T. Edwards in Matins, Lauds and Vespers for St David's Day: the Medieval Office of the Welsh Patron Saint in National Library of Wales MS 20541 E (Cambridge, 1990). David was also canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church at an unknown date.
Over 50 churches in South Wales were dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days.
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).
The restored Shrine of Saint David was unveiled and rededicated by the Right Reverend Wyn Evans, Bishop of St David's, at a Choral Eucharist on Saint David's Day, 2012.
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 recognise 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.
David's popularity in Wales is shown by the Armes Prydein of around 930, a popular poem which prophesied that in the future, when all might seem lost, the Cymry (Welsh people) would unite behind the standard of David to defeat the English; "A lluman glân Dewi a ddyrchafant" ("And they will raise the pure banner of Dewi").
David is said to have played a role in spreading Christianity on the continent, inspiring numerous place names in Brittany including Saint-Divy, Saint-Yvi and Landivy.
David's life and teachings have inspired a choral work by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, Dewi Sant. It is a seven-movement work best known for the classical crossover series Adiemus, which intersperses movements reflecting the themes of David's last sermon with those drawing from three Psalms. An oratorio by another Welsh composer Arwel Hughes, also entitled Dewi Sant, was composed in 1950.
Saint David is also thought to be associated with corpse candles, lights that would warn of the imminent death of a member of the community. The story goes that David prayed for his people to have some warning of their death, so that they could prepare themselves. In a vision, David's wish was granted and told that from then on, people who lived in the land of Dewi Sant (Saint David) "would be forewarned by the dim light of mysterious tapers when and where the death might be expected". The colour and size of the tapers indicated whether the person to die would be a woman, man, or child.
St Davids Cathedral is situated in St Davids in the county of Pembrokeshire, on the most westerly point of Wales.
Saint David's Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David's death in 589 AD. The feast has been regularly celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, by Pope Callixtus II, though it is not a national holiday in the UK.
Paul Aurelian was a 6th-century Welshman who became first bishop of the See of Léon and one of the seven founder saints of Brittany. He allegedly died in 575, rumoured to have lived to the age of 140, after having been assisted in his labors by three successive coadjutors. This suggests that several Pauls have been conflated. Gilbert Hunter Doble thought that he might have been Saint Paulinus of Wales.
Llanddewi Brefi is a village, parish and community of approximately 500 people in Ceredigion, Wales.
The flag of Saint David is normally a yellow cross on a black field, but it has also appeared as a black cross on a yellow field or with an engrailed cross. It represents the 6th-century Saint David, a Welsh bishop of Menevia and the patron saint of Wales.
Arwel Hughes OBE was a Welsh orchestral conductor and composer.
Saint Cybi or Saint Cuby was a 6th-century Cornish bishop, saint and, briefly, king, who worked largely in North Wales: his biography is recorded in two slightly variant medieval 'lives'.
Dubricius or Dubric was a 6th-century British ecclesiastic venerated as a saint. He was the evangelist of Ergyng and much of southeast Wales.
The Synod of Brefi was a church council held at Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion, Wales, around 560.
Saint Padarn's Church is a parish church of the Church in Wales, and the largest mediaeval church in mid-Wales.
Saint Afan of Builth was an early 6th-century Welsh bishop, martyr, and saint. His feast day is generally placed on 17 November, although the Demetian Calendar formerly used in southern Wales placed it on the 16th; it is no longer observed by either the Anglican or Catholic church in Wales.
These are the main holidays traditionally celebrated in Wales that are not shared with the rest of the United Kingdom. Except for those that fall at the same time as UK public holidays, none of these holidays are bank holidays. There is, however, much support for the recognition of St David's Day as a bank holiday in Wales, in the same way as St Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland, and St Andrew's Day in Scotland.
The Bishop of St Davids is the ordinary of the Church in Wales Diocese of St Davids.
Saint Teilo, also known by his Cornish name Eliud, was a British Christian monk, bishop, and founder of monasteries and churches. He was from Penalun (Penally) near Tenby in Pembrokeshire, south Wales.
Fagan, also known by other names including Fugatius, was a legendary 2nd-century Welsh bishop and saint, said to have been sent by the pope to answer King Lucius's request for baptism and conversion to Christianity. Together with his companion St Deruvian, he was sometimes reckoned as the apostle of Britain.
Deruvian, also known by several other names including Damian, was a possibly legendary 2nd-century bishop and saint, said to have been sent by the pope to answer King Lucius's request for baptism and conversion to Christianity. Together with his companion St Fagan, he was sometimes reckoned as the apostle of Britain. King Lucius's letter may represent earlier traditions but does not appear in surviving sources before the 6th century; the names of the bishops sent to him does not appear in sources older than the early 12th century, when their story was used to support the independence of the bishops of St Davids in Wales and the antiquity of the Glastonbury Abbey in England. The story became widely known following its appearance in Geoffrey of Monmouth's pseudohistorical History of the Kings of Britain. This was influential for centuries and its account of SS Fagan and Deruvian was used during the English Reformation to support the claims of both the Catholics and Protestants. Geoffrey's account is now considered wholly implausible, but Christianity was well-established in Roman Britain by the third century. Some scholars therefore argue the stories preserve a more modest account of the conversion of a Romano-British chieftain, possibly by Roman emissaries by these names.
The Synod of Chester was an ecclesiastical council of bishops held in Chester in the late 6th or early 7th century. The period is known from only a few surviving sources, so dates and accounts vary, but it seems to have been a major event in the history of Wales and England, where the native British bishops rejected overtures of peace from Augustine's English mission. This led directly to the Battle of Chester, where Æthelfrith of Northumbria seems to have killed the kings of Powys and (possibly) Gwynedd during an attack on the ecclesiastical community at Bangor-on-Dee.
Isfael or Ismael, often anglicized as Ishmael, was a 6th-century medieval Welsh bishop of Rhos and saint. He was allegedly also a Breton prince of Armorica.
St David's Church is a Grade II* listed medieval church in the Welsh village of Llanddewi Brefi, 3 miles south of Tregaron in the county of Ceredigion.
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