Saint David

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Saint David (c. 500–589) (Welsh: Dewi Sant) was a church official; he was later regarded as a saint and as the patron saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life. However, his birth date is still uncertain, as suggestions range from 462 to 512.


Early life

David became a pupil of Saint Illtud at Llanilltud Fawr[1] like Saints Samson of Dol, Gildas and Paul Aurelian. Rhygyfarch, the late 11th century author of the saint's life story (see below), wrote that David was the son of sanctus rex ceredigionis, where Sanctus has been interpreted as a proper name and its owner honoured by Welsh Christians as Sandde, King of Ceredigion. However, this Latin phrase can equally well mean simply "holy king of Ceredigion". The king of Ceredigion around the time of David's birth would have been Usai. According to Rhygyfarch, Sandde was his brother, so probably only a king of part of Ceredigion. They were sons of King Ceredig, founder of Ceredigion. The saint was conceived through violence and his poor mother, St. Non, the daughter of Lord Cynyr of Caer Goch (in Pembrokeshire), gave birth to him on a cliff top during a violent storm. The site is marked by the Chapel of St Non. David was educated at what is usually taken to be Whitland in Carmarthenshire under Saint Paulinus of Wales and was baptised by St. Ailbe, Bishop of Emly.[2]


He became renowned as a teacher and preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Dumnonia and Brittany in a period when neighbouring tribal regions (that were to be overrun by Anglo-Saxon or Frankish tribes over the following three hundred years) were still mostly pagan. He rose to a bishopric, and presided over two synods, as well as going on pilgrimages to Jerusalem (where he was anointed as an archbishop by the Patriarch) and Rome. St David's Cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the 'Glyn Rhosyn' valley, in Pembrokeshire.

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