Every year here in Wales on March the 1st we have the perfect excuse to stock up on Welsh cakes (or we certainly do in the office), pin daffodils to our uniforms, and wave our Welsh flags high – Today we celebrate St. David’s day!
The St David’s day celebrations will be in full swing no doubt, with children wearing little welsh costumes to school, parades of proud Welsh folk marching through streets of Wales and of course endless amounts of Cawl! The colorful celebrations showcase that St David’s day plays a very important role in our Welsh culture, yet little is still actually known about St David’s life and the story behind St David’s day.
Going back to around the year of 520, it is believed that St David was born at this time on a cliff top during a wild thunderstorm, close to the small city in Pembrokeshire that is now named after him. His parents were said to be descendants from welsh royalty.
At a time when Welsh kings ruled small kingdoms and most people made their living by farming, St David is said to have lived a simple life of a monk, drinking only water and eating just bread and herbs. It is believed that he founded a monastery close the place where he was born.
This was just the beginning of St David’s journey. Becoming a missionary, St David traveled widely throughout Wales, Cornwall, France and even made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he was consecrated a bishop after allegedly performing magical miracles on his way! Some of St David’s most famous miracles have been said to include bringing a dead body back to life by splashing the child’s face with tears and restoring a blind man’s sight.
St David’s best known miracle took place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi. Supposedly when preaching to a crowd, complaints arose that people couldn’t hear him. A white dove then perched on St David’s shoulder, and as it did so the ground on which he stood rose up forming a hill, making it possible for all to hear.
Today a church stands on top of this hill and the dove is now known as St David’s emblem which often appears perched on his shoulder in portraits and glass stained windows.
St David’s influence of kindness and caring nature further spread around the country out of Wales even over to Ireland, where the Irish also embraced his beliefs about caring for the natural world. St David’s words to his followers were ‘Do the little things, the little things you’ve seen me doing’. These words continue to inspire many people today.
Today there beautiful sites dotted around Pembrokeshire that people like to visit in remembrance of St David..
St David’s Cathedral and Bishops Palace, St David’s.
St David’s Cathedral as you may see it today was built mainly in the 1300s, the reasoning being that St David founded a monastery close to where the cathedral stands now. Pope Calixtus II declared that two pilgrimages to St David’s were equivalent to Rome, as a result St David’s Cathedral became one of the most important shrines in the medieval Christian world.
St Nons Chapel, St David’s.
Allegedly named after St David’s mother Non, St Nons chapel is said to lie on the spot where St David was born, the ruins front onto Pembrokeshire’s breath taking coastline. It is also believed that the holy well near to the chapel holds ‘healing’ properties. If you get the chance to visit – make sure you throw a coin in for good luck!
Lampheys Bishop Palace, Lamphey.
Also built after St David’s death, Lampheys bishop palace was built on an extravagant scale by the wealthy medieval church. It was supposedly a place where the bishops of St David’s would retreat to in order to escape the stresses of church and state life.
After reading this blog, weather you are in Wales or any other part of the world we hope we have inspired you to celebrate St David’s day!
Until next year, Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant!
Happy St David’s Day from the Coastal Cottages Team.