Sunday, March 1, 2015

Feast of the Great King St. David of Wales

Today is the "St. Patrick's Day" of the Welsh people, but it didn't occur to me until a couple of years ago that this was our family's name day.  Most Davises I am told are of Welsh descent and are named in honor of the great saint of that country, Dewy San, or St. David.  King of  Ceredigion (one of many distinct kingdoms that emerged in Wales after the Romans left).

Our saint had an unusual start in life.  It is believed he was conceived in violence by a chieftain named Xantus.  His mother, Non, who is venerated as a saint, gave birth to him on a cliff top during a violent storm.  The pains of the birth were said to have been so bad that the imprint of Non's fingers were left in the rock she grasped, and the tale goes that as David was born a bolt of lightning split the rock in two.  Legend has it that the two pieces of the split rock later became part of the foundation for St. David's Cathedral (in the county of Pembrokeshire in the most westerly point of Wales) and  St. Non's Chapel (a few miles from the cathedral).

St. Non's Chapel, Wales                Photo by Lucy Hollis

St. David is an example that a child, no matter how he is conceived, is precious in the eyes of God and lit with the same spark of possibility as any soul.  There is a tradition that an angel told St. Patrick about the birth of St. David thirty years before his birth, and no doubt St. Patrick's prayers contributed to the holy outcome of a violent beginning, but this new baby born on the edge of a cliff was also blessed to be the son of a saintly mother and later became the pupil of another saint, St.PaulinusWith these good influences and the strength of his own will, David grew up to be a great man.

Always a  respected and well-loved leader, he entered the religious life and became known as a preacher and teacher and founded many churches and monastaries.  He became a bishop, presiding over two synods,  made pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem, and while in Jerusalem was raised to an archbishop. The most famous miracle of his life was that of the raising of the hill of Llanddewi Brefi.  He was preaching to a large crowd at the synod being held there when the people at the back complained that they couldn't hear -- so a hill rose up beneath St. David's feet.  A village now stands on this hill. (It's my fondest wish to tour the British Isles some day -- and this is one of the places on my "must see" list!)

King St. David lived to be 100 years old, dying around the year 590.  His final words to his people 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"

The same message as our St. Theresa of Lisieux, only 1400 years earlier.
For more information about St. David's Day celebrations in Wales, there are many links in my post of last year.  and the image above can be printed for a lovely coloring page.  The best biography of our saint that I found is at the Monastary of Dewi Sant.

Happy Feast of St. David to all, but especially to those of Welsh descent, to all the Davises out there, and to all the Davids  (That means YOU especially, Uncle Dave!).

A prayer to St. David
(Can be said as a novena)

O great St. David, we hear you call us on towards a life of faith; a life that knows no fear of death. Christ was the centre of all your teaching; God’s holy will the centre of all you did.

Help us now by your great intercession, certain as we are that in your goodness you long ago made provision for all our present and future needs. We ask you now, dear brother, to watch over us, to stretch out your hands in blessing upon us and lead us now to God with our hearts confessing our King, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer who lives forever more.

Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God, that the loving intercession of Saint David, your Confessor and Bishop may protect us and guide us, help us to be joyful and keep the faith. We make our prayer in the Name of Jesus. Through Christ, our sweet and loving Lord, Amen.

* Repost from 2011 -- an annual tradition to re-post!  Happy San Dewey Day, 2015!

1 comment:

Cathy Keller said...

Interesting. What a great post. My family have Welsh-Irish roots. I"d not know about this as we always celebrate St Paddy's day with great ferver! Thank you. Have a grand day!!