Thu 14 Mar 2019
People around the world celebrate St David’s Day on the 1st March every year. But, who is St David and why is he celebrated?
St David is the patron saint of Wales. His exact date of birth is unknown but is believed to have been around 500 AD. The legend goes he was born on the Pembrokeshire cliffs during a fierce thunderstorm. His mother was a nun named Nonnita and his father was Sant, King of Ceredigion; thus, he came from a royal lineage and is believed to be related to King Arthur.
As a young man, he became a monk and founded a monastery close to where he was born. That area is now known as St David’s, and it is believed that St David’s Cathedral and St David’s Bishop’s Palace are built on that original site. St David’s is officially Britain’s smallest city, with a population of just 1,600.
As a monk he lived a modest life, surviving on only bread, vegetables and water, earning him the nickname Dewi Dyfrwr, ‘David the Waterdrinker’. During his life, St David founded a further 12 monasteries including Glastonbury and was named the Archbishop of Wales.
St David is said to have performed several miracles; including restoring a blind man’s sight and bringing a child back to life. The most well-known miracle was when while preaching to a large crowd, the people were struggling to hear him when a white dove landed on his shoulder and the ground on which he stood rose to form a mighty hill.
The dove became St David’s emblem, alongside the leek which, according to legend, became a tradition after St David advised the Welsh to wear a leek in their caps to recognise each other on the field of a great battle with the Saxons.
It is said St David lived for over 100 years and died on Tuesday, 1st March 589 AD. After his death, a shrine was built in his honour at the cathedral and by the 12th century, over 60 churches in Wales had been dedicated to him. His death has been recognised annually since his canonisation in the early 12th century by Pope Callixtus II.
Every year a National St David’s Day parade is held in the centre of Cardiff, with exciting performances by Welsh theatre groups, a parade with traditional dress and a food festival. Many children will wear traditional Welsh clothing to school and take part in school concerts.
St David’s day is the first patron saints day of the year, followed by St Patrick’s Day on the 17th March, St George’s Day on the 23rd April and St Andrews Day on the 30th November.