Saint David (Dewi Sant)
Saint David or Dewi Sant was a Welsh bishop whose date of birth is estimated to be between 462 and 512 AD. He has been the patron saint of Wales and of doves since the 12th century. Very little is known about his life, and there have been legends circulating as to his origin. He was supposed to be the child of Sant, a prince from Cardigan (Ceredigion) and Non, who was a chieftain’s daughter and King Arthur’s niece. His place of birth was in Caerfai, Pembrokeshire.
He was canonised in 1120 and the date of his death, 1 March, became the day when he was honoured in Wales.
He lived a very austere life, subsisting on water and eating bread flavoured with salt and herbs. He imposed the same on his monks, and made them carry out manual labour in the fields. He did not favour the use of working animals and prescribed that the monks pull the ploughs themselves. They practised asceticism and were not allowed to have any personal possessions.
Miracles and great deeds
St David was important in Welsh culture but he was better known for the miracles that he performed. As a priest, he travelled extensively all over southwest England, Cornwall and Wales. It was believed that he also went to Brittany, Ireland and possibly to Jerusalem as well. Throughout his life he wanted to spread Christianity and founded several monasteries and churches.
It was said that St David lived despite eating poisoned bread served to him by monks in his own monastery because they got tired of living a very austere life. He restored the sight of St Paulinus, his tutor. Of the many miracles he performed, the most famous was the one where he raised the ground he was standing on into a small hill so that people could hear his sermon at the Synod of Brefi. There was a white dove sitting on his shoulder at that time and the bird became his symbol.
The leek is one of the symbols of Wales. According to legend, it was St David who advised the soldiers to place leeks in their hats when they were battling the Saxons. In this way, they could be differentiated from the enemies easily. They won the battle thus the leek became one of the country’s symbols.
There are many activities during this special day, including the singing of traditional songs. Te Bach will be served. This is tea with bara brith (Welsh fruited bread) and teisen bach (Welsh cake). The Welsh national costume is worn by young girls together with daffodils or leeks, which are the national symbols of Wales. There will be food festivals and parades, especially in Cardiff.
Dymuna BLS Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i chi! Gwisg genhinen yn dy gap, a gwisg hi yn dy galon!
BLS wishes you a happy St. David’s Day! Wear a leek on your cap and wear it in your heart!