Monday, March 01, 2004

St. David, Patron of Wales

He is Degui or Dewi in Welsh.

Bishop and Confessor, patron of Wales. He is usually represented standing on a little hill, with a dove on his shoulder. From time immemorial the Welsh have worn a leek on St. David's day, in memory of a battle against the Saxons, at which it is said they wore leeks in their hats, by St. David's advice, to distinguish them from their enemies. He is commemorated on 1 March. The earliest mention of St. David is found in a tenth-century manuscript Of the "Annales Cambriae", which assigns his death to A.D. 601. Many other writers, from Geoffrey of Monmouth down to Father Richard Stanton, hold that he died about 544, but their opinion is based solely on data given in various late "lives" of St. David, and there seems no good reason for setting aside the definite statement of the "Annales Cambriae", which is now generally accepted. Little else that can claim to be historical is known about St. David. The tradition that he was born at Henvynyw (Vetus-Menevia) in Cardiganshire is not improbable. He was prominent at the Synod of Brevi (Llandewi Brefi in Cardiganshire), which has been identified with the important Roman military station, Loventium. Shortly afterwards, in 569, he presided over another synod held at a place called Lucus Victoriae. He was Bishop (probably not Archbishop) of Menevia, the Roman port Menapia in Pembrokeshire, later known as St. David's, then the chief point of departure for Ireland. St. David was canonized by Pope Callistus II in the year 1120

The Catholic Encyclopaedia, from which the above is taken, goes on to say that his legend is much more elaborate, and entirely unreliable. I wonder what makes them think that? Is it just because he was King Arthur's nephew, that his birth was predicted to St. Patrick by an angel, and that he visited Ireland by riding on the back of a sea monster? It must be those Italian hagiographers: they're just envious of our Celtic saints.

The rest of the C.E. article and more of his legend ["unreliable". Harumph.] can be found here.

Here is his collect from the Divine Office, the English and Welsh propers:

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God, that the loving intercession of Saint David, your confessor and bishop, may protect us, and that while we celebrate his festival we may also imitate his firmness in defending the Catholic faith. (Through Christ our Lord.) Amen.

From the same source, this is the proper hymn for Morning Prayer (laudes ad matutinas):

O great Saint David, still we hear thee call us,
Unto a life that knows no fear of death;
Yea, down the ages will thy words enthral us,
Strong, happy words: "Be joyful, keep the faith."

On Cambria's sons stretch out thy hands in blessing;
For our dear land thy help we now implore.
Lead us to God, with humble hearts confessing
Jesus, Lord and king forevermore

Christ was the centre rock of all thy teaching,
God's holy will -- the splendour of its theme.
His grace informed, his love inflamed thy preaching;
Christ's sway on earth, the substance of thy dream.

On Cambria's sons stretch out thy hands in blessing;
For our dear land thy help we now implore.
Lead us to God, with humble hearts confessing
Jesus, Lord and king forevermore.

An Anglican version of the same collect:

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that the devout prayers of blessed David, thy Confessor and Bishop, may in such wise succour and defend us, that we which on this day observe his festival, may follow his constancy in the defence of thy true religion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Welsh flag with its dragon can be seen (and explained) here A recipe for Welsh leek soup is found here. (Is it more or less repectful to make a soup of your national emblem than it is to "drown" it in a glass of beer or whiskey? Such deep questions for a Monday morning.) More on the leek and its and subsidiary national symbol, the daffodil.


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