St. David's Window, St. David's Cathedral
Happy St. David’s Day (Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus) *
When you ask the Irish who is their patron saint, they will likely respond, St. Patrick. I would wager that fewer than half of the English walking the earth know that St. George is theirs. I would double the wager that nearly all of the Welsh know that their patron saint is St. David, and that March 1 is his day.
One delicious fact that is enjoyed by the Welsh is that both St. David and St. Patrick were born in Wales. A favorite Welsh rugby song, oft sung when facing the Irish is “St. Patrick Was a Welshman.” My favorite line is “So cry into your Guinness when come’s St. Patrick’s Day, cause Patrick was a Welshman, and he still is one today”
St. David’s bio is a mysterious stew of fact and myth, shrouded in ancient mist like a foggy day on St. Brides Bay. He was born around the year 500 at or near Dyfed, the promontory on the southwestern coast of Wales. His parents were both Welsh. His mother was Saint Non, and his father was either Sanctus, King of Ceredigion or a chieftain named Sant (Holy). Born in a storm, the site is marked by the ruins of Non’s Chapel and the water from a nearby well is said to have healing power
David was a gifted preacher and founded monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Brittany, and southwest England, including, possibly the abbey at Glastonbury. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and brought back a stone which is part of the altar of St. David’s Cathedral which stands on the site of his original abbey in Pembrokeshire.
St. David died on March 1 in 589 and that is the day that the Welsh celebrate as St. David’s Day. He was buried at the site of St. David’s Cathedral, where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.
He left his followers with a directive that was delivered in a sermon on the Sunday before he died. “Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things you have heard and have seen me do.”
The phrase “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd” - Do the little things in life – is still a well-known saying in Wales.
So, if your name is Jones, Williams, Davies, Thomas, Evans, Roberts, Hughes, Lewis, Morgan, or Griffiths, lift a glass with me today and toast the Welsh. The author and five signers of the Declaration of Independence, eight US Presidents, and many of your neighbors, friends, and distant relatives have Welsh heritage. And if you are so unfortunate as to not have a drop of Welsh blood, ask yourself what you do on March 17 each year? That’s right, you dress in green and celebrate that famous Welshman St. Patrick.
So, double your pleasure. Double your patron saints. Celebrate the one to whom you are most likely related.
*Phonetic pronunciation (Deethe goo-eel Dew-ee happ-iss)