(Feast Day: March 1st)
Like St. Patrick, St. David’s story is fact elaborated by legend. Each year, the people of Wales celebrate St. David’s Day on March 1st. Here is what we more or less know about St. David…
He was a child of rape, born on a stormy night in Wales. As a boy, he was tutored by St. Paul Aurelian, a monk who later became a bishop. After becoming a priest, David would follow his tutor’s footsteps. He also lived as a monk, and – like St. Benedict – founded 12 monasteries of men living as manual laborers in poverty, prayer, and studying Scripture. They offered their monasteries as shelter for pilgrims and travelers, and cared for the local poor and needy. David himself ate a simple vegetarian diet and practiced penance. It’s reported that he would stand neck-high in a cold lake and recited Scripture!
While in one of his monasteries, David received a vision. He set out next day, with two monks, to Jerusalem to aid the Patriarch. While there, his preaching converted anti-Christians. Legend says that once while he was preaching, a dove descended to his shoulder to show he had the blessings of the Spirit, and that the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard by them all. During this Holy Land pilgrimage, David was made a bishop by the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Returning to his homeland, David presided over two synods, one of which condemned Pelagianism – a heresy which denied the existence of original sin.
He died in 598. His final homily ended with these words: “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’ (‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain’) is today a very well-known phrase in Welsh, and has proved an inspiration to many. He was canonized in 1120 by Pope Callistus II.
St. David, pray that we – like you – would be inspired to aid the Church in the Holy Land!