Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy St David's Day-Dydd Dewi Sant-Hwyl i Phawb!

Well Happy and Blessed St David's Day to all the readers! This day was a high holy Day of Obligation in Britain until the troubles of the sixteenth century. Why? Here is his story.

St David was born of King Sante who forced himself on the hapless nun Non at St Davids in Pembrokeshire-formerly the Roman province of Menevia. Non was also of Royal blood. David was brought up piously, learnt Latin, Welsh, Greek and other subjects at a local monastery by his teacher, Paulinus (Palin)whom he later cured of blindness. There are many miracles ascribed to him. Ordained in Rome and consecrated as a Catholic Bishop in Jerusalem, David returned to live in Gwent for a while in the tiny chapel by the Honddu Brook, in the Golden Valley of Ewyas in the mountains to the North of the Country in the shadow of the Skirryd or Holy Mountain, overlooking Abergavenny. At the time of the crucifixion the sky went black and the local legend has it that the mountain split in two, cleft by the huge flaming sword of St Michael. Services are held up there nowadays and farmers collect earth to make their crops grow from there.

David lived in the cell in this beautiful valley-unspoiled even today, until St Dyfrig and St Deiniol visited him and begged him to come to Ceredigion(Camarthen to preach against the heresy of Pelagius,as the Pope had sent St Germain to do earlier. David did not want to be torn away from his retreat,but eventually went, when Deiniol and Dyfrig refused to eat unless he agreed!!!They all went to the synod (Church Apostles meeting) David spoke so eloquently against Pelagius who was disputing the divinity of Jesus that he levitated high over the people. He stood before 5 large wax candles denoting the wounds of Christ.The place today is still called Llandewi (holy plce of David)Brefi.

The Synod affirmed the true teaching of the Church and insisted David replaced Dyfrig (Dubricius) who was resigning to Llandaff and David became the premier Bishop at Caerleon. He found he Roman town too busy, and longing for solitude took the main church to st David in Pembrokeshire. They worked hard in the monastery, David did many deeds of mercy. When he died, we are told the church at st Davids (which houses his relics) became full of angels and flew with him up to heaven. From the Life of David by Rhygyfarch (Ricemarch)

David drank no strong drink-only water-ever. He cared for widows and orphans and their welfare as a priority. He was reputed to have enormous joy in his harp playing. He is also reputed to have died on the cliffs near St Non's Well and Chapel now, looking to Ireland and before he died, blessed the widows and children.His compassion for the suffering was endless.

His reputation was so great, as preacher, orator, miracle worker and Bishop, when formal canonisation was introduced he was canonised by Pope Callixtus II in the Twelfth Century, unlike many other saints who were acclaimed by the vox populi (voice of the people who knew a saint when they saw one!

Even with his wonderful learning, he was humble working hard inthe fields pulling a plough with his own body.

Today the County and the rest of Wales will be in singing ad voice competitions, harp and dance throughout Wales and honouring the Great Patron Saint of Wales-St David.

St David's Cathedral is now held by the Church in Wales and the relics viewed there in the reliquary, not far from the large picture of St Julius of Caerleon which looks down on it.Gwent can be proud that our greatest saint lived in the country for some time, prayed in it and hallowed it.

I shall shortly release another podcast to tell his story from original sources-with the magnificent harp playing of Cheryl Ann Fulton whose CD can be bought from Magnatune.'Airs of Wales'.MaryinMonmouth-please subscribe via rss,iTunes, Juice or others podcatchers. IT'S Free!
St David of Wales, pray for us!

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