SAINTS

MARCH 1: ST. DAVID OF WALES

(Died 589)

Though we have little information about his life, David probably is one of the most famous British saints.

We do know that he became a priest, was a missionary, and founded many monasteries. His principal abbey is in southwestern Wales. The lives of the Welch monks were filled with extreme austerity. They worked in silence without the help of animals to till the soil. Their food was limited to bread, vegetables, and water.

In about the year 550, David attended a synod where his eloquence impressed his fellow monks to such a degree that he was elected primate of the region. The episcopal see was moved to Mynyw, where he had his monastery, now called St. David’s. He ruled his diocese until he had reached old age. His last words to his monks and subjects were: “Be joyful, brothers and sisters. Keep your faith and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me.”

According to mythology, it was St. David who ordered his defending army to identify themselves by wearing a leek on their helmets as they fought against the pagan Saxons thrusting westwards. They didn’t have to search far for the leeks: the chosen battleground was a field full of the green and white vegetables.

So, a tradition was born. At the Battle of Crecy in 1346, Edward III’s feared Welsh longbow archers apparently wore green and white as they destroyed the French army. Even today, Welsh guards outside Buckingham Palace wear a leek on their cap badges every March 1 – St David’s Day.

St. David often is pictured standing on a mound with a dove on his shoulder. A legend goes that once while he was preaching a dove descended to his shoulder and the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard. More than churches in South Wales were dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Saint David of Wales | Franciscan Media. (n.d.). Franciscan Media. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2021, from https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-david-of-wales and Meacham, S., & Meacham, S. (2017, November 22). St Davids, Pembrokeshire: The patron saint of Wales. Traveller. https://www.traveller.com.au/st-davids-pembrokeshire-the-patron-saint-of-wales-gzorra