Mar 1, 2011
Happy St. David's Day!
Admittedly, I've given hardly any attention to this wee Celtic country on Celtic Voices either. Until now.
The people of Wales were early Christians, like the Irish. But unlike the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick, St. David is not well known. Other than the fact that his death is mentioned in a 10th century manuscript, there is not much documentation on the bishop's life. But there are legends! The lives and stories of St. David were written down about 500 years after his death. Things like his mother was a nun who had been violated, his birth was foretold by St. Patrick thirty years earlier, his father was a king or a prince, he cured his teacher of blindness...
Ever wonder where the expression about March coming in like lion and out like a lamb came from? St. David's birth, at the end of the month, was gentle like the dove often pictured on his shoulder. His death, on March 1st, came like a lion. Well, that's one story anyway.
From The Catholic Encyclopedia:
One of his first acts was to hold, in the year 569, yet another synod called "Victory", against the Pelagians, of which the decrees were confirmed by the pope. With the permission of King Arthur he removed his see from Caerleon to Menevia, whence he governed the British Church for many years with great holiness and wisdom. He died at the great age of 147, on the day predicted by himself a week earlier. His body is said to have been translated to Glastonbury in the year 966.
It is impossible to discover in this story how much, if any, is true. Some of it has obviously been invented for controversial purposes.
St. David's Day is a matter of national pride for the people of Wales. It was not celebrated until the 18th century. Here's a fine list of things you should know about the celebration in Wales.
So, here's to the Welsh! Our Celtic brothers and sisters!