St. David of Wales

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St. David is the patron Saint of Wales and his day falls on March 1st, when Welsh people celebrate by wearing leeks and daffodils - two of the symbols of Wales. The Welsh dragon is another symbol.

David was born in Wales around the year 500 and there are loads of legends about him. Some are a bit fantastical - and very few people these days would believe these stories as history - but they give a flavour of how respected he was by the Welsh people, and indeed by all of the Britons.

You might also be interested in our other saints stories:

Proofread by Claire Deakin. Read by Natasha. Duration 8.26.

David’s father was the King of Ceredigion, and some say that he was the nephew of the famous English King Arthur, whose knights sat around a round table. David’s mother was a poor but beautiful young woman, and the King did not look after her. When she was ready to give birth to David, she found that she was caught outside in a storm. The sky was filled with great flashes of lightning, and there were terrifying crashes of thunder. Hail and rain were coming down everywhere, except on the spot where she got herself ready to deliver the child. All around her was dry and lit by the sun.

David was baptised by a blind monk. Some of the water from the font splashed onto his eyes, and immediately he could see.

When David grew up he became a monk, and he travelled around Wales and England. He founded monasteries and churches including the famous Abbey at Glastonbury where it is said that King Arthur is buried. You can still see the beautiful ruins of the Abbey to this day.

David told his followers to be vegetarians and, of course, they ate a lot of leeks which grow very well in Wales. The monks who joined him had to give up much more. They didn’t use animals for farming – and they even pulled ploughs themselves instead of using oxen. They weren’t allowed to own any possessions, and if one of them said “My book” he had to do a penitence, which is a kind of punishment.

Despite his tough ways, St. David became very popular – perhaps because he had the gift of working miracles. For instance, when his neighbours land was drying up, he stuck his staff into the earth and a spring sprung out of the ground. A local ruler became very jealous of his popularity, and his wife told him to send slaves with sticks to beat David and his monks – but as they came to attack the monks, their arms lost all their strength, and all they could do was to hurl filthy insults at them. When they returned home, they found that all their cattle had died. They returned to the monks and asked forgiveness. This time when they went back, all their cattle had come back to life.

Another time, some of St. David’s monks turned against him, and decided to poison his food, but a friend of his in Ireland foresaw this in a dream and he sent St. Scuthyn to warn him. There were no ships ready, to carry Scuthyn across the Irish sea to Wales, but he waded into the water and a sea monster picked him up on his back and carried him across. When he arrived he warned St. David that his cook had put some deadly poison into his bread. At dinner time, St. David broke the bread into three pieces. He gave one piece to a dog, and another to a crow - both immediately died. Then he blessed the third piece, which he ate himself. Everyone watching thought that he would surely die too - but he was perfectly alright.

His most famous miracle happened at a great religious meeting. There was a vast crowd of people in the audience, and not one of the bishops who spoke could make themselves heard – except for David. The ground beneath him rose up into a hill so that he stood high up above the crowd, and a dove landed on his shoulder. His voice rang out as clear as a trumpet. St. David is often pictured speaking with a dove on his shoulder.

David became Bishop, not just of the Welsh, but of all the Britons. At that time, the Britons often had to fight off Saxon invaders from Europe. Before one great battle, St. David told the army of the Britons to wear leeks in their hats as a kind of uniform. They won the battle, and ever since leeks have been a welsh symbol. To remember the victory, Welsh soldiers eat raw leeks on the eve of St. David’s day.

St. David lived to be more than 100 years old, and as he was dying, the monastery in which he lay filled with angels. His last words were "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd," which means, "Do the little things in life," and to this day, it’s a common saying in Wales.

And those are some of the stories about St. David. I do hope you enjoyed them – and that they gave you a little flavour of wales 1,500 years ago. We have other Saint’s stories on Storynory.com, including those of St. George, St. Patrick, and St. Valentine. For now, from me, Natasha.