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Just for today we’re taking a little detour to Wales because this is a very special day for the Welsh people. This is the day that they celebrate their patron saint who also happened to be a native of Wales. This is Sant Dewi or Saint David who was born to the King of Ceredigion, Sandde (pronounced: Santh). David attended school in Henfynyw near Aberaeron and was taught by Paulinus! His mother, Non, was the daughter of a Chieftan by the name of Menevia and he lived in the village Glyn Rhosyn, part of his mother’s inheritance. This is where the cathedral that bears his name stands today, one of only four such grand cathedrals in Wales ! Many stories abound about St. David but one legend, which is the most miraculous story of all, is the best known story of him in or outside Wales today.
When David began preaching he traveled widely and as a result many churches are named after him in Brittany (France), Cornwall and southwest England. He drew large crowds and congregations with his testimony and in a small village near Tregaron in Wales this posed a bit of a problem. Today the village is Llanddewibrefi. He had been invited to an important meeting there and when he presided the large crowd couldn’t see or hear him. According to legend he stopped and placed a handkerchief on the floor and stood on it. As he continued to preach the earth rose under his feet and everyone could then see and hear him. On the hill that still exists there they built a church which is called church of Llanddewibrefi.
People all over the world, who are of Welsh origin, celebrate St. David’s Day because it was the day he died back in 589. As with many saints there are quite a few churches named after him but the cathedral in Pembrokeshire, which practically sits at land’s end in the western-most point of Wales at Tyddewi, is very special to people all over the world for pilgrimage alone because many people consider two pilgrimages to this cathedral as being worth one to Rome. His body is entombed there at the cathedral and a small ruined chapel nearby is dedicated to his mother.
His sainthood is well-founded because many miracles besides the one I recounted are associated with him according to an account written late in the 11th century by a monk, Rhygyfarch, who resided near Aberstwyth at Llanbadarn. It wasn’t until the 18th century that St David’s Day became a national festival but it is considered a high holy day in Wales marked by the singing of traditional songs, a Te Bach (tea with teisen bach and bara brith) and a flag of the Red Dragon is flown and displayed widely in Wales and can also be worn as a pin ! Leeks are also worn and at times eaten.
There is much information on the Wikipedia page on St.David’s Cathedral and I encourage one and all to look as it has quite a history all its own although what stands there today was built much later in the latter part of the 12th century with the original monastery founded by David long gone. It has also been restored and rebuilt throughout the centuries for various reasons and by various builders- one being John Nash, although his work is also gone through rapid decay. What you will see today was the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott who made significant and extensive restoration in the 19th century, keeping the character of the 15th century roof and retaining much of the medieval integrity of its older architecture. A pilgrimage here entails getting a complete guided tour of the interior and also access to the beautiful gardens, the graveyards and the Bishop’s Palace which is in ruins but still retains some of its former elegance.
To see a gallery of photos of it click: