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.Paulinus. With 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.
(Can be said as a novena)
* Repost from 2011 -- an annual tradition to re-post! Happy San Dewey Day, 2015!