Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SAINT DAVID (C. 500–589)

(Welsh: Dewydd; Latin: Davidus; English: David)

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non.

In contrast with the other national patron saints of the British Isles, Saints George, Andrew and Patrick, David is a native of the country of which he is patron saint, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life.

However, his birth date is still uncertain; suggestions range from 462 to 512.

He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus.

Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries.

St. David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded.

The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism.

St. David journeyed throughout the West, founding or restoring twelve monasteries (among which are the great names of Glastonbury, Bath, and Leominster).

David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer - only water - while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study.

Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire.

His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church.

He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II.

He is revered as the patron of Wales.

His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.

His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek.

His last words to his followers, in a sermon on the previous Sunday, were:

"Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."

"Do the little things in life" ('Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd') today is a very well-known phrase in Welsh.

David was buried at St. David's Cathedral where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.

His feast day is March 1.

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