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    Home » Enjoying » Places to visit » St Davids » Life of St David

    Life of St David

    Little is known about the life of Saint David, and much of the following account is local legend. If you have anything to add please get in touch!

    His birth is supposed to have been foretold by Merlin the wizard, and also by Saint Patrick. His mother was called Non and his father Sant, who are both from royal Welsh families.

    Saint David was born about 530 A.D. on the cliff top at St Non's Bay, during a dreadful storm. As the child was born a spring of water appeared from the rocks, and can still be seen as a holy well. He was baptized at Porthclais by Eilw (Elvis in Latin or Ailbhe in Irish) who was the Bishop of Munster in Ireland. He was sent to be educated by the monks, as were many sons of wealthy families at that time. David went to Whitland and was taught by Paulinus who was blind. Saint David's first miracle was said to be the restoring of Paulinus's eyesight, who opened his eyes to see daffodils for the first time.

    He left Whitland with a small group of fellow monks and came west to Mynyw (the old Welsh name for the village of St Davids) to found a monastic settlement. A local chieftain called Boia tried to drive David and his followers away, but as Boia and his men attacked, the men and their cattle fell down as if dead. Boia in fear granted David the land at Glyn Rhosyn for his community, and even became a Christian himself.

    As soon as hostilities ceased against David, Boia's men and cattle recovered. Boia's wife however was not so easily won over. She sent her maidens to bathe naked in the River Alun, to tempt David's followers away from their vows, but David told his followers to close their eyes. Lastly Boia's wife sacrificed her daughter to try and drive them away, but realizing what she had done went mad herself. Boia was devastated by his loss and again tried to attack David, but an Irish chieftain by the name of Lisci had just landed nearby and attacked Boia's badly defended camp and killed him. Both Boia and Lisci are now remembered in local place names.

    Life for the monks was hard, they ploughed their fields themselves, not using horses or oxon to pull the plough, and lived on only vegetables and water. The monks would stand up to their necks in water as a penance, and David was known in Welsh as 'y dyfrwr' (the waterman). They went on pilgrimages, Saint David is supposed to have gone to Rome, also to Jerusalem where he was consecrated as an Archbishop.

    Saint David also travelled in Wales, he went to a synod meeting in Llandewi Brefi where he spoke to the people. There was such a crowd there that he couldn't be heard or seen. Saint David put a handkerchief on the ground and stood on it, then as he spoke to the crowds the ground underneath him rose up so that he could be seen and heard by all.

    Saint David died on the first day in March 589 A.D. when angels came down from heaven to take his soul. He was recognized as a saint by Pope Calixtus in 1123 and recognized as the Patron Saint of Wales. At that time Rome was becoming a bit over popular with pilgrims, so much so that some of the bridges in the city had to be made one way. To solve the over crowding problem Pope Calixtus is reputed to have decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids would be equal to one to Rome.