Cynyr the Fair Bearded was a local lord in Dyfed, he was St Non’s father and thus St David the patron saint of Wales grandfather who ruled the Cantref of Pebidiog from one (or all) of the three places called Castell-Coch (Caer Gawch) near Mynyw (St. Davids). He apparently, also held Caer-Gynyr (later Caer Cai) near Bala in Penllyn and it was supposedly at these fortified sites that he raised the High-King Arthur as his foster-son. Making King Arthur a close relation to both St Non and to St David.
Ceredig, King of Ceredigion (St David’s paternal Grandfather) was born around 420AD in his fathers original homeland of Manau Gododdin around the Upper Firth of Forth. His father (St David’s Great Grandfather) was Cunedda or Cunedag Wledig (the Imperator) who was a northern British chieftain, born around 380AD a sub-King of Gododdin who ruled Manau Gododdin on the Firth of Forth around Clackmannan. Not much is known about his life in the North, though an ancient poem generally known as the Marwnad Cunedda records his wars against the kingdoms of Coel Hen and his descendants, when "the forts will tremble.....in Caer Weir [supposedly Durham] and Caer Liwelydd [Carlisle]".
Cunedda's paternal ancestors bore Roman names for three generations, including Paternus of the Red Robe, a name which has brought suggestions that the family ruled North of Hadrian's Wall in some sort of official Roman capacity. His maternal grandmother was supposedly the grandaughter of Conan Meriadoc, male heir of the legendary Welsh King, Eudaf Hen. Cunedda was therefore chosen by the northern Welsh to help them in their fight against the invading Irish. When called upon to expel Irish invaders from North Wales in the early 5th century, he travelled south, with the rest of his family. He fought bravely against the advancing Gaels and his father rewarded him with the most southern area of his new kingdom, bordering on Dyfed, possibly including part of the Cantref Gwaelod. Here, he became a great patron of his brother-in-law, St. Curig. The region became so associated with Ceredig that the people named it Ceredigion after him.
In his old age, the kingdom was attacked once more by the Irish and he was persuaded by his counsellors to abdicate in favour of a younger man. However, his heir, his eldest grandson, Carannog, declined the offer of the Crown in order to become a hermit. Instead the people of Ceredigion had to look to Ceredig's second son, Usai.
St David’s Great Grandfather was Cunedda or Cunedag Wledig (the Imperator) his pedigree appears in the Jesus College MS 20, Oxford University and other early Welsh genealogical tracts thus:
Beli Mawr (the Great)
Afallach, duplicate generations
Eponym of Britain
Padernus of the Red Robe
Cunedda Wledig (the Imperator)
However, the earlier pedigree in the Harleian MS 3859 gives a more accurate picture:
Beli Mawr (the Great)
Afallach, duplicate generations
Possibly duplicate generations
Paternus of the Red Robe
Cunedda Wledig (the Imperator)
The older pedigree shows that a number of the generations given in the later ancestries are, in fact, duplications. Three of them simply add the prefix 'Guor-' on to each name and it has been suggested that this was part of some sort of bardic chant which helped people remember the names.
Cunedda, like many of his contemporaries, claimed descent from the Celtic gods, Beli and Afallach. Yet, his immediate ancestors had extremely Roman names: Aeternus, Paternus & Tacitus. They were probably leaders of the Votadini tribe. They were on excellent terms with the Roman administration south of Hadrian's Wall and may have formed part of a pro-Roman borderland buffer zone after the irruptions of AD 367/69. Paternus' Red-Robe may even suggest the official purple garb of the Roman Administration.
The Diocese of St Davids covers the historic extent of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and a small part of western Glamorgan. The see is in the City of St David’s where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Saint David (Dewi Sant). Which was probably founded as a Cathedral in the sixth century, on the site of the monastery originally founded by St David, son of St Non. (St David's Cathedral pictured below)
The Black and Gold colouring of the Flag of our Order, is symbolic of the noble line of the Kings of Ceredigion.
St David’s father was Prince Sandde of Ceredigion who was son of Ceredig, King of Ceredigion. If we look at the Crest of the County of Ceredigion (Cardiganshire) below you can see the black and gold lion on the top left hand corner of the crest, which is symbolic of this noble line.
His (St David’s) mother was Lady Non who was the daughter of Lord Cynyr Ceinfarfog of Caer Goch. She became a Nun, a pious devout woman who was based at Ty Gwyn near Whitesands Bay (Dyfed) who was by all accounts violated, by Prince Sandde of Ceredigion in the latter years of the 5th century. Then becoming pregnant the woman went into hiding and ended up giving birth at Caerfai, on the coast just south of Mynyw (St. Davids), in the middle of a violent storm. On this site now are the remains of the Chapel of St Non (pictured below)
During the birth, Non pressed her fingers so hard into a boulder beside her that she left their impression in the rock. A baby boy was born in a sea of brilliant light and the boulder was split into two pieces by a dramatic lightning strike! It is said according to legend that the two separated stones formed the foundation stones of both St Non’s Chapel and St David’s Cathedral, both located in the City of St David's, Wales. Non named her son Dewi and he became the greatest saint in all of Britain (St. David).
A chapel was built where Dewi was born and its ruins (pictured above) can still be seen there today. St Non’s Well is nearby. Pictured below.
Reached by a short walk on a path through the fields from St. Non's Chapel, a small stream runs cold and clear out of an arched reservoir. Coins have been cast into the well. Next to the well is a simple wooden sign that reads:
ST. NON'S WELL
This well is said
to have sprung up
during a thunderstorm
when St. David was
born about 500 AD.
Its waters are reputed
to have healing properties.
Near the well is a small shrine with a statue of St. Non, arms outstretched in compassion.
Both St. Non and St. David travelled extensively during their lives, including visits to Ireland and Brittany. Holy wells were an integral part of the belief-system of the Celts. Many have been found to contain quartz crystals, white quartz pebbles, and other offerings in them, as well as Roman coins, indicating that their healing powers were also accepted by outsiders.
The Celts, like any other early civilization required the basics of available food and water around which to build their early settlements. Water was revered as a gift from Mother Earth, and the very pure water of wells and springs was considered especially sacred.
Close to St. Non's Well, about 100 yards distant, is the ancient ruined chapel of St Non built in the 6th century. It is actually constructed within a prehistoric stone circle, a perfect example of the continuity and convergence of beliefs. Yet in some ways this is hardly surprising as the Scots-Gaelic for 'going to church' is still, when translated, as going to the stones'.
The only carving within the ruined chapel is a very fine example an early slab-cross, possibly earlier than the chapel itself. Pictured below.
Very similar basic cross-within-circle designs are found in all other Celtic countries. Healing wells are very much 'alive' today, and St Non's well is still often used for its curative properties, as are many ancient wells in other Celtic countries. The object of writing about them is not to encourage people to visit them like tourists, but that they should be approached in a spirit of pilgrimage and revered as sacred places. Many people have elaborate theories as to how the water is imbued with healing properties, but the fact remains that whatever a person's beliefs, the water from Holy wells has a beneficial effect on the human body. A number of clergymen today are aware of this, and hold annual healing services if there is a Holy well within their parish. For those interested in the contemporary scientific field, all healing wells tested have been found to contain a far higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide than normal water. Hydrogen peroxide has recently been successfully used in the treatment of certain cases of cancer, leukaemia, aids, as well as many other lesser ailments.
Ruins of St Non’s Chapel are located where St David is reported to have been born. The chapel ruins lack any distinguishing features to help date the building, and the earliest reference to a chapel here is in a document of 1335 AD. However, an early excavation reports the uncovering of 'stone coffins' which might in fact have been slab-lined graves of the early Christian period. Unlike the majority of Christian buildings, the structure is aligned north and south, not West to East, probably due to the steep fall in the ground.
Also the presence here of the pillar-stone with its incised Latin cross (pictured above), roughly dateable to the 7th to 9th century, is suggestive of an early medieval foundation for the chapel, although unfortunately, there is no firm evidence that the stone originally came from the site.
The chapel is a simple rectangular building, with an entrance to the west. The north-south orientation of the building is unusual, and is probably best explained by the foundations having been laid out to suit the severe slope. The massive masonry on the southern, downhill end was presumably put down as part of a foundation platform, to help level the site. The position of the altar is marked by a step at the north end. The chapel is traditionally held to mark the place where St Non gave birth to St David.
The chapel was one of the more important sea-shore chapels in the area; two pilgrimages to St David’s Cathedral were held in the medieval (mindest) period to equal one to Rome, and pilgrims to the chapel gave money 'by the wishful', which was taken to the Cathedral. After the Reformation, pilgrims came to St David’s in fewer numbers, and St Non's chapel passed out of religious use.
Although not much remains of the ancient chapel, this site is well worth seeing for its simple beauty and spectacular location. Signs lead here from St David’s City. A Wales Heritage sign marks the chapel and visitors are free to wander into the site anytime. The more recent St Non's Chapel (built 1930s) is located next to the original St Non's Chapel and some of the stones from the original Chapel were used in its construction. The more recent St Non's Chapel, St David's, Wales is pictured below.
The Holy well, just to the west of the chapel continued to be a famous place for healing even after the Reformation, and there are antiquarian references to the pious offering of pins and pebbles at the well on St Non's Day. In the 18th century, the present stone vault was built over it, though this may have replaced an earlier well building.
St Non raised Dewi (St David) up at Henfeynyw near Aberaeron in the County of Ceredigion and together they founded or more probably joined a nunnery at Llanon. (Llanon later being named after St Non). Possibly on or very near to the site of the present Llansantfraed Church
Llansantfraed Church, Llanon
This church is dedicated to St Ffraed (Bride or Bridget in English (c 450 - c 525 AD) who was renowned for her acts of mercy and pity for the poor. She is reputed to be the patron saint of those engaged in dairy work and in the south wall of the Church is a stained glass window she (St Ffraed) is depicted holding a bowl of milk. After St Patrick she is one of Ireland’s most famous Saints. She lived and founded a nunnery in Kildare, the first erected in Ireland. The adoption of an Irish saint is probably due to the maritime links with Ireland that were possible through ship building along the Cardiganshire (Ceredigion) west Wales coast. Some of these ships were built in the village of Llansantffraed / Llanon. Trade and religion linked much of Wales to Ireland. Indeed, the Welsh church had strong Celtic origins before its later affiliation with Rome.
There are impressive stained glass windows in Llansantfraed Church. The half of one same window depicts St Non, and her young son Dewi Sant (St David), who is reputed to have been raised in or around Llanon. It is from here he is said to have walked 6 miles daily to school at Henfynyw (Old Menevia). The window dedicated in 1972, commemorates the rare phenomenon of two female saints within one parish. St Non and St Ffraed..
The east window depicts the risen Christ and was dedicated in 1975. It is somewhat unusual because it depicts the Resurrection whereas most other east windows show scenes from the Crucifixion. This seeks to convey the wonder of the Easter message to those who come here to worship. Pictured below.
The remains of an old chapel, commemorating St Non, are thought to be elsewhere in the old village of Llanon. The ruins, which can be found to the rear of the old Post Office, are claimed to be that of a Chapel-of-Ease. Further recent investigation however suggests that these were the ruins of a domestic house and it seems more likely that the Non Church stood on the site of a nearby house called Homerton, which was built on the site in 1902. This, like Llansantffraed, Church site would have originally been a monastically based Celtic Christian worshipping cell. It ceased to flourish after medieval times, although the cell was affiliated to Llansantffraed hamlet which borders the village of Llanon as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century. The mounted stoop stone in the Llansantffraed Church porch was brought there, from the site of the St Non’s Chapel, St David's some 40 years ago (as of circa 1996 AD).
The internal architecture of the present Llansantffraed Church, designed in the 1840s, features the unusual salem-like pattern more often seen within non-conformist chapels. Typical of this type of architecture are the plastered ceiling, the tall door-opening pews and the gallery.
In past times Llansantffraed was home to a ship building yard. From here generation after generation of local men became mariners. A trip around the gravestones will bear witness to this. Some mariners and ships traded as far as South America. Some 55 vessels were constructed in the parish between 1786 and 1864. Three of the oldest gravestones are affixed to the east and south exterior walls.
To the south of the door are the enclosed marbled gravestones of the eminent David Morgan (1814-1882) and his family from Alltlwyd. A diligent churchwarden. Morgan was the last operator of the local Craiglas Lime Kilns which can he found along the coast towards Llanrhystud and also the last and probably the only brewer who operated from what is now called Plas Morfa. Leading up to the door, from the gates, is a finely set pebble pathway that rernains about the best example of what would have been once extensive pathways. Others can be found around the village, outside houses and even in interior hearths.
There are documents relating to the Church from the 1200s. A list of successive vicars is fairly complete from 1546 onwards. Parish registers date from 1754, and vestry minutes from 1819 just after the Napoleonic wars. During the reign of Cromwell, the building was desecrated by Cromwell’s soldiers, and the prominent tower offered a tempting target for sailors to shoot at. A cannon ball from a small ship’s canon, was found in the graveyard and is stored in the church vaults.
Before 1900 most villagers lived within the confines of two small rivers, the Peris, and the Cledan. They were partly supported economically, by the cultivation of the 300 plus ‘slangs’ in this area, called Morfa Esgob (Bishops meadows). Legend ascribes them as St David’s gift to the villagers, the legend dates from 1231. This communal system of cultivation is rare and Celtic in essence.
Coastal erosion means the church, set 41 feet above sea level, stands closer to the waves than ever before But it continues to stand as a witness to the Gospel in the name of St Ffraed. and still defies the coastal elements and the passage of time.
The town of Llanon (LlaNON) in Ceredigion is named after St NON. In later years, she moved to Cerniw (Cornwall) to be near her sister St Wenna or Gwen.
Cornubia (Corniu / Cerniw) - CORNWALL
A sub-kingdom of the greater Dumnonian Kingdom, it was the last free British territory in the south of Britain (outside Cymru / Wales) to survive, absorbing into it (or being absorbed into) the remnants of Dumnonia so that the two eventually became indivisible. It was first created a sub-kingdom by Constantine Corneu. Penwith, the upper westernmost cantref, was a principality in its own right for a time, being owned by a King of Brittany.
Known as Cornubia during Roman and immediately Post-Roman Britain, the name became corrupted by the dramatic changes in the British language in the sixth and seventh centuries, and by being passed through Welsh hands. The name means 'people of the horn', ie the Land's End section of the Cornish peninsula. The Saxons called them Corn-wealas, Cornwall (wealas being the Saxon word for foreigner or stranger, which is what they applied to all Britons in their own land).
Cerniw is not to be confused with the name Cernyw used to describe the kingdom and sub-kingdoms that formed the early Glywyssing. The latter name had fallen out of use by the sixth century.
St NON’s sister was
St. Wenna the Queen
(Latin: Genuissa; English: Gwen)
Her name in Welsh is simply, Gwen. St. Wenna (the Cornish version of her name) was the daughter of Lord Cynyr Ceinfarfog of Caer Goch, Gwen or Wenna was the wife of King Salom of Cerniw and mother of St. Cybi. She founded the church of Morval (near Duloe) in Cerniw (Cornwall) and apparently died in 544 AD. She (St Wenna) should not be confused with her contemporary, St. Wenna of Talgarth, whose church was at St. Wenn. Saint Wenna (c.472 - 18 October 544 AD) is known as a Cornish saint. She founded the church now known at Morval in Cerniw (Cornwall).
Morval St Wenna Church (pictured below)
This church is situated within the Anglican Diocese of Truro and County of Cornwall England. She died in Cerniw (Cornwall).
St. Cybi Felyn, Abbot of Caer-Gybi
(c. AD 483-555)
(Welsh: Gybi; Latin: Cepius; English: Cuby)
Prince Cybi son of St Wenna was a nephew to St Non and cousin to St David, he was almost certainly born around AD 485 in the Callington region of Cerniw (Cornwall) - although Cuby (near Tregony) and Duloe are alternative claimants. He had a fine education and took a keen interest in Christianity even in his youth. At the age of twenty-seven, he made pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem and eventually became a priest, being consecrated Bishop by the Bishop of Poitiers. On returning home, he found that his father, King Salom, had died and he was nominally the monarch of his country. However, Cybi had set his heart on a life dedicated to G_d and so, when he was formally offered the Cornish throne, he politely refused and Cerniw once more became united with Dumnonia.
St Non’s nephew St. Cybi is said to have attended the Synod of Brefi in Llandewi Brefi in AD 545, where his advice was sought by a number of priests hoping to make a pilgrimage to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). The men were worried about Saxon pirates, but the saint persuaded them that if their faith was strong enough they had nothing to fear. While in Dyfed, Cybi founded the Church of Llangybi near Usk, Monmouthshire. The Church of St Cybi is there to this day. Pictured below.
St. Cybi a first cousin of St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales and nephew to St Non. St. Cybi came to Anglesey at the end of his life, having preached the gospel throughout Gaul, Cornwall, Devon, South Wales, Aran, Meath, and the Llyn Peninsula. A close friend of St. Seiriol of Penmon, Cybi would meet his friend half way in the middle of Anglesey. St Seriol walking Westwards in the morning and east in the afternoon always had his back to the sun and was known as Seriol the Fair, whilst the suntanned St Cybi walking eastwards was known as the Cybi the Tanned.
St. Cybi died in. 554-555 A.D. and was buried in Eglwys y Bedd (the Chapel of the Grave) adjoining his monastery at Holyhead.
The Church of St. Cybi still stands on the site today, with a small detached chapel over the saint's grave (pictured above). St Cybi died on 8th November AD 555 and was buried on the Isle of Anglsey. His relics were removed from the chapel for safekeeping in the 1400s.
Eglwys y Bedd, the Burial Site of St. Cybi Near St. Cybi's Church, Anglesey
St Non having moved to be near her sister St Wenna in Cornwall sent out some oxen to drag her portable altar to the place where she would live. They stopped at a place now called Altar-non or Altarnon, Cornwall where she settled down and founded a monastery.
Altarnun or Altarnon, nestles in the sheltered valley of Penpont Water, a tributary of the River Inny, is named in the Domesday Book as Penpont and can truly be described as one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall. Across the two bridges stands the Church of St.Nonna (Non). Pictured below.
The Normans built a church here in the 12th century, but the church as it now stands was built in the 15th century and was partly constructed of unquarried stone from the moors. Surprisingly the tower is 109 feet high, its height being less noticeable due to the backdrop of hill and trees. Notably the pillars are monoliths, as are the capitals and bases. The mullions of the windows are all original except those on the west. The wagon roofs of the aisles and the porch roofs are thought to have come from the Trelawney family mansion which was dismantled when they left the area in the 15th century. The Norman font is one of the few remaining parts of the 12th century church. One of the main features of 'The Cathedral of the Moors' is the signed collection of 79 bench ends carved by Robert Daye between 1510 and 1530.
By the church gate stands a fine Celtic cross (pictured above), possibly dating back to the 6th century, the time of St.Non herself.
She was the mother of St. David patron Saint of Wales as we know and left her native Wales around the year 527 AD. Altarnun is in fact a corruption of Altarnon, meaning the altar of St Non. Sometimes referred to as 'The Cathedral of the Moor' The present 15th century St Nonna’s Church in Altarnon was built mainly using unquarried stones taken from Bodmin Moor.
Just up the lane from the church in Altarnon lies the Old Rectory, which was built in 1842. Authoress Daphne du Maurier, a visitor to the house, featured it in her book 'Jamaica Inn' as the home of the notorious Francis Davey, Vicar of Altarnun. This elegant house, built in the Georgian style and Grade 2 listed, was sold by the church in 1975.
To the left of the church facing the village green, which is bounded by Penpont Water on one side, stands a long white cottage which is recorded in the early 19th century as being the 'Poor House'. This was run by the local parish overseer of the poor, but was sold in 1871 and is now a private residence. At the end of this short lane stands the Church Hall, which until 1931 was the three-roomed Village School. The Hall still plays an active part in the life of the village.
In a field below the vicarage at Altarnon, can be found the Well of St Nonna. After much decay it was restored with care by Mr Morley Brown who brought the land and being fascinated with the legend of the well sort out the water course which enabled the well to once again run freely.
That a place called Davidstow adjoins Altarnon is not by chance and is interesting and highly significant.
Davidstow is a small village on the northern edge of Bodmin Moor and is named after St David, Bishop of Menevia. Most noble son of St Non. In the past the parish was called 'Dewistow' from the Cornish for David: 'Dewi'. The parish is 12 miles to the West of Launceston. Farming is the main industry. This imposing Grade II listed Church in Davidstow is beside the main road from Camelford to Launceston.
Nearby Camelfords claim to be the Camelot of Arthurnian legend is interesting too. St Non’s father was Cynyr the Fair Bearded who raised his foster son - the high King Arthur according to legend. Gwen / Wenna would have been a sister to St Non and step sister to Arthur;was this the reason she (Wenna) lived in or near to this geographical area? With Wenna living in this area- was this then also the reason that her sister St Non and son St David relocated to this area around 527 AD?
Davidstow Church in its present form dates back to the early 13th Century. In the 18th Century it suffered from neglect and decay due to non-resident vicars and by the middle of the 19th Century it was in a bad state. A huge restoration project in the late 19th century restored the church. Then dwindling congregations made the diocese consider closing it. But in the 1990's an unexpected increase in local interest, gave more funds that have enabled restoration.
The Church dates from the 13th Century. In 1540 the patronage was annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall - where it still remains - but in the absence of a Duke of Cornwall the Presentation to the living was in the right of the Monarch at that time. HRH Prince Charles in his capacity as the current Duke of Cornwall is the present patron of the living.
A major restoration of the church was carried out in the 15th century and the main fabric of the nave, aisles and tower date from that time. There were a series of non-resident vicars in the 18th century and by the mid 19th century the church had become very dilapidated and was described as “being in a parlous state”. In 1875 the church was saved by the Pearse family of Trehane. It was extensively restored and much of it effectively re-built, leaving the church much as we see it today.
Davidstow Holy Well - following the 1996 restoration
The Holy Well is located in a boggy hollow in a pasture field, owned by Church Town Farm, no doubt originally used for Baptisms and a source of water for the early settling Celtic missionaries. It is based to the north east of Davidstow Church. The Well is approached over a stone stile next to the Church Hall; access proving difficult because of the boggy nature of the land and considerable poaching by grazing cattle. The well has been through two restorations, firstly in 1871 by Michael Williams, and the archway above the door bears testimony to this fact, and secondly in 1996 by Fred Sanders of St.Breward under the auspices of and financed by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit. It is currently in an overgrown state and can prove difficult to access.
Constructed in regular granite blocks, some of which it is said were taken from a ruined chapel in Lesnewth at the time of the 1871 restoration, the facade is four metres long and one and a half metres at its highest point. The stones around the doorway are characteristic of the medieval period and the base of each of the flanking stones shows the beginnings of what may be original decoration. A new oak doorway made in exactly the same style as the old one, using new timber but the original iron fittings, were hung at the time of the 1996 restoration.
In their book “Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall”, published in 1894, L & M Quiller-Couch describe the Holy Well at Davidstow in some detail.The water from the well, after suitable treatment, is used in making the now famous Davidstow Cheese.
Interestingly Davidstow Cheese is always requested for the cheese board when the Order of St David and St Non dine.
Davidstow is a prize-winning cheese with a wonderful Cornish flavour which is enjoyed in over 3.8 million households in Britain. Its taste, consistent high quality and Cornish provenance make it popular with everyone from Cheddar connoisseurs to busy families. This has made it one of Britain's best-selling Cheddars.
The Davidstow Creamery in Cornwall has been making cheese for over 50 years. For Davidstow Cheddar, it follows a traditional recipe and mainly uses milk produced in Devon and Cornwall. The result is a Cheddar that's a natural source of calcium and suitable for vegetarians which has made it one of Britain’s best selling Cheddars. Davidstow Cheddar is sold under the retailer brand of all major supermarkets.
St Non eventually retired to Brittany and settled in Dirinon in Finistère, France. This town is named after St David and St Non. Diri being a variation of Dewi and Non after St Non.
Here St Non set up a third monastery or joined an existing one, where she finally died on 3rd March. Her shrine can still be seen in the parish church today.
The 5th and 6th centuries saw a great movement of the Celtic peoples of epic proportions: the Anglo-Saxons had driven many into Wales and were pressing hard on those in the South west, pushing them further and further down into the peninsula; Welsh Celts too were fleeing to Cornwall and to Brittany from periodic outbreaks of the Yellow Plague. Consequently, many thousands migrated via Cornwall to Brittany which was more sparsely populated and where there was more arable land.
The boats used at that time were made of hides and wood. The Celtic migration would have also involved crossing Cornwall on existing well-trodden drovers’ routes such as that between Padstow and Fowey.
Either side of this route are a great many villages and church dedications to the Celtic saints of these times, an era known as ‘The Age of Saints’. St Iltud’s monastic university in Llantwitt Major, South Wales trained many Celtic missionaries including Paulinas (St David’s teacher whom St David cured of blindness) and also St David was schooled here. These trained missionaries, many of whom were to follow the migrations of their people into Cornwall and Brittany at the time having largely lapsed back into paganism. As a result of this, the old Padstow-Fowey trade route is now popularly known as ‘The Saints’ Way’.
Although close relationships between Brittany and Cornwall grew in the later Middle Ages they have long been acknowledged in terms of their common linguistic background, reciprocal trade, and changing political affiliations, their mutual dramatic traditions have been given less attention. By the later Middle Ages, connections between these two regions dated back a thousand years, to the time of the British migrations to Brittany-popular movements now generally thought to have occurred between the late fourth and early seventh centuries, with particular concentrations of immigrants coming from the South west of England in the first half of the sixth century. The early Breton and Cornish languages were so closely related that, perhaps not surprisingly, it remains difficult for modern scholars to distinguish between the two in documents written prior to the twelfth century.
Our understanding of Breton and Cornish medieval dramatic traditions is largely based on a small group of surviving dramatic texts and records from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and limited archaeological evidence. As in much of Europe, for Brittany and Cornwall this was a time of political and cultural upheaval, a time during which both communities felt the need to assert local and Celtic identity-an assertion apparent in their surviving saint plays: the Breton Buez Santez Norm and Buhez Sant Gwenole, and the Cornish Beunans Meriasek.
Since Breton drama remains virtually unknown to most students of medieval theatre, a brief excursus on the manuscripts, contents, and performance traditions of these saint plays is perhaps appropriate before proceeding to a more developed statement. Written mostly in couplets and sestets, the Buez Santez Nonn survives in five copies, four of them made by eighteenth-century antiquarian Louis Le Pelletier. The fifth copy, dating to the early sixteenth century, was discovered at the beginning of the nineteenth century at Dirinon, near Landerneau in Brittany. Recently re-edited in a new, lavishly illustrated edition with an accompanying French translation, this manuscript seems to be a fair copy, with few corrections or marginalia, but with speech headings, stage directions, and an occasional capital in red ink. The play has many Celtic affiliations, including appearances by a number of Celtic saints: Patrick, Gildas, David, and Non herself. Although not a saint, Celtic soothsayer Ambrosius Merlin also makes a brief showing to prophesy of St David's future greatness. The plot delineates how G_d commands St Patrick to leave Britain for Ireland, and how St Non, a sister in a British convent, is later raped by a Prince of Britain. She then leaves England for Brittany having given birth (she gives birth to St. Davy also known as St. David or St. Dewi or Diri) and with the boy Dewi in hand who later returns to Britain to become the Archbishop of Menevia in Southern Wales. Before his death, Davy works many miracles, among them the healing of his blind teacher Paulinus.
Non meanwhile goes on a pilgrimage, ending up near Dirinon, her tomb itself becoming the site of many further miracles. Although no local records describe performances of the play at Dirinon, the play's repeated references to the site of her tomb there make such a connection highly likely.
St Non left Cornwall and settled at a monastery in a another town that was finally to be named after her DIRINON, France. Diri is a variation on Dewi (David) and Non is so after St Non. No doubt a young St David accompanied St Non on these missionary expeditions.
The mother of the Patron Saint of Wales St Non is buried in the St Non's Chapel of the Church at Dirinon, France (The church is pictured below).
It was during the middle of the fifth century A.D.that St. Patrick came to Wales to convert the Welsh people to the Christian faith. While there an angel appeared to him saying, "Not to you has G_d assigned this place, but to a son who is not yet born, and will not be born until thirty years have passed." This grieved St Patrick, but the angel went on to tell of the work G_d had for him in Ireland; but that is another story. Patrick left this prophecy with Sant, the King of Ceredigion in Wales and then departed for Ireland. Thirty years later St. David was born; the son of Sant's son and St. Non. He grew to become a man of spiritual prowess, purity, and devotion, converting many to the Gospel faith in the land of Wales, where he would later become their patron saint.
St. David spent a large part of his life in St. David’s, or Mynyw as it was then called, and there founded his monastery. The date of his birth is not known, but the date generally accepted for his death is 1 March 589 AD which has since been celebrated as his feast day, Dydd Dewi (St David's Day).
Followed on 3 March by that of his mother, St. Non (5th March within the Church in Wales). St. David’s body was buried in the grounds of his own monastery at St David's Cathedral, Wales. St David's Cathedral and St David's Tomb and roof of St David's Cathedral are pictured below.
All the traditions about the saint agree that he was tall (his height was 4 cubits or 2 metres or 6 feet) and that he was physically strong: he was able to bear a yoke and pull a plough as well as any team of oxen, yet his diet was mainly bread and herbs.
A herb widely used at the time and which formed an important part of the diet of early Christian communities, was watercress. Watercress has a hot, spicy taste, kind of like radishes, but lacks any of the intense bitterness that many of the wild mustards are noted for. When cooked or dehydrated, it releases an unexpected flowery aroma that rivals the best vanilla in virtue. This heady fragrance is a well-kept secret hidden away inside this humble plant to be discovered only by the most dedicated watercress connoisseurs. (Wild watercress pictured below).
Water was also an important feature in the life of David: not only were major events in his life marked by the appearance of springs of water (later to become holy wells) but he was also one of several Welsh saints known as ‘watermen’ (the Welsh word for waterman is dyfrwr, and the Latin word is aquaticus). St David only drank water and as a self-imposed penance, would stand up to his neck in cold water reciting the psalms. A medieval couplet celebrates the Waterman: Dewi the Waterman, faithful is he Dafydd the chief saint of Christendom. David was attractive in appearance and always had an angel with him. Like all other Celtic saints, he possessed healing powers and could work miracles, a few of which I describe on this website. The medieval scribes wished to stress the ways in which the lives of the saints imitated the life of Christ and miracles, particularly those of healing, have both a literal and a symbolic significance as have the words of Isaiah, foretelling the coming of the Messiah: Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened.
St David was, perhaps, the most charismatic of all the Welsh saints. As a person, he was a mystic and an ascetic, firm in the ruling of his monastery, but a man of profound G_dliness, humility and perhaps reticence. He was a linguist and a scholar, establishing an important teaching monastery in St. David’s which sent missionaries to Ireland and in turn, attracted holy men and women from other Celtic lands, especially Ireland. St David would have spoken an early form of Welsh at a time when the language known as Breton was in the process of dividing into separate Celtic languages. He would have spoken Latin and probably an early form of Irish as well. David’s settlement in the valley would have been a simple one, consisting of circular huts with an oratory and preaching crosses and surrounded by a wall. Nothing of this survives today, although a church would have stood on the spot - until the first Norman cathedral at St David's was built in 1131.
David’s biographer, 11th century biographer Rhygyfarch of Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Wales gives a vivid account of life in a Celtic monastery. The day began with early prayer followed by manual labour in the fields. When these tasks were finished, the monks returned to reading, writing and prayer ‘until stars are seen in heaven bringing the day to a close’. The daily tasks also involved caring for the sick, the needy and the pilgrim. Clothes, except those worn for the services of the church, were made of animal skins. All property was held in common; it was customary for families of men entering a monastery to make gifts of land to the monastic establishment concerned, but St David did not accept such gifts from those entering his own monastery which imposed a particularly difficult and demanding novitiate.
The Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
St David was drawn to make pilgrimages to the great and holy shrines of Christendom. He is said to have travelled to Rome, but his best-known pilgrimage was to the Holy Land. Under the direction of an angel, three Welsh saints, St David, St Teilo and St Padarn, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem together. An index of early bardic lore, preserved in a collection of sayings called the Triads of the Isle of Britain, in Welsh, Trioedd Ynys Prydein, called them the Three Blessed Visitors of the Isle of Britain. St. David, who was granted the gift of tongues for the journey, acted as interpreter. At Jerusalem, they had audience with the Patriarch who consecrated David as Archbishop, and presented them with four gifts: a bell, a staff, a tunic woven with gold, and an altar. There is a Church in rural Wales (Radnorshire) that is reputed to be in custody of the "hand bell" that was presented to St David. A Church in Swansea, Wales claims to have the Altar that was presented to St David - housed within their High Altar.
The achievement of St David’s career which made him first among the Bishops of Wales, giving all churches dedicated to him supreme rights of sanctuary, took place in Llanddewi Brefi (the church of David on the Brefi stream), in the remote and wooded hill-country of Cardiganshire.
A meeting of churchmen (synod) and the people had been called to denounce Pelagianism, a doctrine regarded as heresy. Pelagius, a fourth-century Irish monk, who lived in Rome, had denied the Church’s teaching that a man was born in sin and redeemed by Christ. He taught that man was responsible for his own sin and thus, by his own efforts, for his own salvation. This heresy caused much anxiety amongst Church leaders and so the synod of Brefi was held in a place known today as Llanddewi Brefi in the year 545AD. At first, little progress was made, so Paulinus, David’s early teacher, whom he cured of blindness urged that David, who was not present, should be brought to speak. When first approached, David was doubtful of his ability to convince the multitude when such a learned assembly had failed. He was finally persuaded by two leading churchmen, Deiniol (Bishop of Bangor) and Dyfrig, or Dubricius, traditionally Archbishop of Caerleon.
On the way to Brefi, one of David’s most- acclaimed miracles took place: he restored life to the dead child of a widow. A spring, Ffynnon Ddewi, near the church, marks the site. The Spring can still be visited to this day. The child followed David to Brefi as a young disciple. When St David reached Brefi, he spread a ‘handkerchief’ (the Latin word used also means ‘a shroud’) on the ground on which he stood to preach. With clarity and conviction, David denounced the heresy and as he did so, the ground rose under him to form a mound and a snow-white dove settled on his shoulder. The white dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and David is often depicted with a dove on his shoulder.
From this point on, David’s fame and reputation grew. David acquired the image of earlier Celtic heroes and G_ds, including a legendary life span of 147 years. The year which has been accepted as the date of his death is 589 AD but it is not known how old he was when he died. His last words to his deeply-grieving followers were ‘do the little things that you have heard and seen through me’. On a Tuesday, the first day of March, the monastery (site of St David's Cathedral) was filled with angels as Christ received his soul.
Why do we respect and remember St. David and St Non? As St. David and St Non--like so many of the Celtic saints-- combined in their lives the qualities to be lived out in the today’s World. He and his followers, saw the importance of the sacramental nature of the church. He, with evangelical fervor, sought to convert the unsaved, and to bring the Gospel to the hearts and minds of all whom he encountered. And he functioned in the power of the Holy Spirit: healing the sick, raising the dead, miracles, and prophecy. St. David was also a defender of the faith against paganism and rising humanism in the church, for it was St. David who led the fight against a wave of humanism--known as Semi-Pelagianism--that was sweeping the church of Christ in his day; a battle St. David won on the hill of Llandewi Brefi in Wales. Today we face many challenges within the Church and within society, but with the Spirit of Christ, and the example of St. David and St Non, we too can participate in G_d's renewal of our lives and our society.
We praise thy name all-holy Lord,
For him the beacon-light,
That shone beside our western sea
Through mists of ancient night;
Who sent to Ireland’s fainting church
New tidings of thy Word.
For David, Prince of Cambrian Saints,
We praise thee holy Lord.
Rhygyvarch's Life of St David
St. David, or "Dewi," the patron saint of Wales, lived in the 6th century, soon after St. Patrick. While many ancient manuscripts about St. David date to the 8th and 9th centuries, the earliest "Life" of St. David to come down to us is that by Rhygyvarch (1056-1099) who in the 11th century wrote from accounts he found in "many old manuscripts" available to him in his research at St. David's Cathedral on the site of the old monastery. The text here is based on A.W. Wade-Evans's careful 1923 translation of Rhygyvarch's text, with a new introduction.
St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales, ascetic monk, monastic founder, and the first Bishop St. Davids, an historical person. He lived in the 6th century A.D., in the twilight of the Roman Empire in the Western world. His feast day is celebrated on March 1. His mother St Non (or Nonna) was according to legend a niece to King Arthur. Tanigible evidence of her existence are left in the towns named after her; namely Llanon (Ceredigion, Wales), Alturnon (Cornwall, England) and her final resting place Dirinon, France.
Early References to St David
The eighth-century Catalogue of the Saints of Ireland contains the earliest reference to St David. It says that the sixth-century church in Ireland received its liturgical form of celebrating mass "from holy men of Britain, to wit, from St. David and St. Gildas and St. Docus." Another version of this text names these three men as "Bishops" and "Britons."
Also from Ireland, the Martyrology of Oengus, dated around AD 800, lists as a church festival under March 1st, "Dauid Cille Muni," or "David, of the ‘monastery' of Mynyw."
The Life of St. Paul Aurelian, written in Brittany around AD 884, says that David was a fellow-disciple with Paul, Samson and Gildas under their teacher, St. Illtud. (St Illtud’s Church is based in Llanwitt Major, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales).
It also notes that St David was nicknamed "the Aquatic," a Latin translation of the Welsh Dewi Dyvrwr, "Dewi the waterman," probably alluding to his practice of drinking only water (an extreme asceticism for which St. Gildas opposed him), but also suggesting the dominance of water as a theme throughout his Life: : springs burst out of the ground around David; he could divine water for needy farmers and thirsty monks alike; when sea winds were too slow, he sent a visiting abbot home to Ireland riding the saint's horse over the water; and everywhere the reader finds angels carrying objects back and forth over the Irish sea between St David and his friends and former disciples.
Arymes Prydein Vawr, a 200-line poem in the Book of Taliesin that Wade-Evans dates to the ninth century, may be the earliest surviving Welsh reference to the saint. It purports to predict the expulsion of the Saxons from Britain and mentions Dewi five times, as the ecclesiastical champion of the Welsh in this campaign.
Around AD 893 Asser, Bishop of St. Davids, mentions in line 79 of his Life of Alfred the Great the monastery and parochia of holy Degui (Dewi). The institution is well-known, and located west of the River Severn and north of the Severn Sea.
The old Latin Welsh Chronicle, dated AD 954 and perhaps written in St. Davids itself, lists under : "Dauid episcopus moni iudeorum," possibly referring to the saint's death.
Rhygyvarch's Life of St. David
Around 1090 Rhygyvarch (sometimes spelled Rhygyfarch) (1056–1099) wrote a Life of Saint David. All the surviving manuscripts of The Life of Saint David may be traced to Rhygyvarch's text as their ultimate source. In the present text, A.W. Wade-Evans (1875–1964), drew from all the extant variants and translations of his day to produce the complete work (first published as Life of St. David. London: SPCK, 1923).
Rhygyvarch was in a unique and ideal position to write St David's Life. As son of the then Bishop of St. Davids, he had free and available access to the texts that survived the many ninth and tenth century Viking raids along the Welsh coast. Rhygyvarch says he wrote his account from the text of "very old writings" he found, especially in the monastery at St. Davids. The narrative is a simple, well ordered text and a masterful hagiography in which miracles abound and historical details are ever subordinated to them. Virtually everything we know about St. David comes from Rhygyvarch.
Giraldus Cambrensis (c. 1147–c. 1223) also wrote a Life of St. David; the only complete surviving copy is in the British Museum (Royal, 13.C.i., folios 171–180) and it appears to be little more than an extract of Rhygyvarch with a few of the miracle accounts that Rhygyvarch eschewed. Rhygyvarch would have written his Life in Latin; the extant fourteenth-century Welsh Life of St. David (Oxford, Jesus Coll., MS. 2) is merely an abridged Rhygyvarch.
The only other truly unique early reference to the saint's life is found in some twelfth-century Welsh poems. One, Canu y Dewi ("singing to David"), by Gwynvardd Brycheiniog, consists of 295 lines consisting of ten odes, all in the same meter, with word repetition or consonantal harmony keeping the metrical unity. The poem is printed (in Welsh) in Anwyl's Poetry of the Gogynfeirdd (from the Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales), 1909, pp. 82–84. Wade-Evans calls it a "strange production"that "embodies material not found in any of the Lives of St. David as at present known" but a translation is wanting. It may be more useful for the study of the history of Welsh singing than as a source of any new historical information about the Patron Saint of Wales.
Rhygyvarch's Life and Times
Rhygyvarch came from a learned family. His father was Sulien the Wise, who was a famous teacher long before he became Bishop, and served as Bishop twice. Sulien came from noble and clerical stock and grew up in Llanbadarn Fawr, a district around Aberystwyth. It is said he "edited a psalter" in his childhood and was educated in British (i.e., Welsh) schools before going off to pursue further education in Ireland, which was then famous for its scholarship. The ship, blown off course, landed in Scotland, and Sulien studied there for five years, followed by thirteen in Ireland before his return to Ceredigion to teach. Sulien had four sons: Rhygyvarch "the wise", Arthen, Daniel, and Ieuan; we know of Sulien's life from Ieuan's poetry.
Sulien served as Bishop of Vallis Rosina (St. Davids) from AD 1072 to 1078. In AD 1080 Scandinavian pirates murdered his successor, Abraham, and Sulien served again until 1085. According to the Welsh Chronicle he died on 1st January 1091.
In addition to Rhygyvarch's Life of St. David, there also exists the Psalter of Rhygyvarch, written about 1079 (published by Lawlor for the Henry Bradshaw Society in 1914), a copy of St. Augustine's De Trinitate made by Ieuan between 1085 and 1091 (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 199), the poem, "Lament of Rhygyvarch" written probably just before the Welsh revolt of 1094 (British Museum Cotton MS., Faustina C.i.), and a few poems some scholars suggest are written in Rhygyvarch's own hand.
Rhygyvarch was born in a united and independent Wales. This unique state of affairs, due to the strong rule of Gruffudd ab Llywelyn, had only existed for 2 years in 1057 and lasted only five more. At Gruffudd's death in 1063 Wales broke up again into rule under separate Princes and in 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered all of Wales at the Battle of Hastings, and imported the French regime that profoundly influenced the remainder of Rhygyvarch's life. The Welsh church, distinctly Celtic, came under attack and pressure to conform to French custom and local Welsh Kings were forced to pay "rent" to the English crown. In 1081 William the Conqueror visited St. Davids, and in 1093 Rhys ab Tewdwr, the king of South Wales, was killed in battle against the conquerors. Rhygyvarch's "Lament" is most logically dated to this year.
In this same year, as one result of the Prince's death, the Church at Canterbury began to meddle in the ecclesiastical independence of the Welsh church, and Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, suspended Wilfrid, the Bishop of St. Davids.
In 1094 all Wales rose up against its Norman foe and this uprising eventually led to a political settlement that held for two centuries. But the Church found no settlement with Canterbury, and the eastern dominance rankled for centuries to come. This conflict is perhaps best known in the campaign of Giraldus Cambrensis, over a century later, to re-establish St. Davids as the see of the Welsh church. But the roots of the conflict date to Rhygyvarch.
Rhygyvarch's Life of St. David, therefore, serves not only to preserve the traditions found in the crumbling manuscripts of the monastic library; it also serves as Rhygyvarch's voice of protest against the subjugation of his ancient and beloved saint.
The primacy of St. Davids and of St David himself is a strong theme throughout the Life, but it becomes almost a battle cry and Rhygyvarch asserts the rights of Wales to all who will listen:
"Saint David, the Bishop, was made the chief overseer of all, the chief protector, the chief spokesman, from whom all received the rule and model of right living. He was the standard for all, he was consecration, he was benediction, he was absolution and correction, learning to readers, life to the needy, nourishment to orphans, support to widows, head to the country, rule to the monks, a way to seculars, all things to all men...
"All the Bishops surrendered to St David both monarchy and primacy, and they agreed to the granting of his right of sanctuary, that it should apply to every ravisher and homicide and sinner, and to every evil person flying from place to place, in priority to every Saint and Kings and persons of the whole Britannic island, in every kingdom and in each region, wherever there may be land consecrated to holy St David. And let no Kings or elders or governors, or even Bishops or superiors and saints, dare to provide right of sanctuary in priority to holy David. Indeed he provides right of sanctuary before every person, and there is none prior to him, because he is head and leader and primate over all the Britons..."
Such a cry might well be heard from one who, in his Lament over the Norman invaders, wrote, "Alas! that life has led us to such a time as this, wherein a cruel power threatens to oust from their rights those who walk justly...Both people and priest are scorned by every motion of the French...Alas! an alien crowd make songs...What remains but to weep...Such things I, Rhygyvarch, sorrowfully bewail."
In his Lament, Rhygyvarch shares the grief of his compatriots in the early Welsh church. In his Life of St. David, he preserves for them their most ancient vision of light, hope, and leadership.
THE LIFE OF ST. DAVID
Here begins the Life of the Blessed David, who also is Dewi, Bishop and Confessor. March 1st.
Our Lord, although he loved and foreknew all his own before the creation of the world, has foretold some by many clear revelations. Thus that saint, whom baptism calls David but the people Dewi, became famous, not only because, thirty years before he was born, he was foretold by truth-telling oracles of angels, first to his father, then to Saint Patrick, but also because he was enriched with donations of mystical gifts.
HIS FATHER'S ANGELIC DREAM
For on a certain occasion, his father, Sant by name and merits, who relied on his Royal power over the people of Ceredigion, which subsequently he laid aside to procure a heavenly kingdom, was warned in dreams by an angelic voice, which he heard, "Tomorrow on waking you shalt find there three gifts by the river Teivi, namely, the stag which you pursue, a fish, and a swarm of bees settled in a tree in the place which is called Llyn Henllan. Of these three, therefore, reserve a honeycomb, a part of the fish, and of the stag, which send to be kept for a son, who shall be born to you, to the Monastery of Maucannus," which till now is called the Monastery of the Deposit. These gifts foretell his life, for the honeycomb proclaims his wisdom, for as honey in wax, so he held a spiritual mind in a temporal body. And the fish declares his aquatic life, for as a fish lives in water, so he, rejecting wine and beer and everything that can intoxicate, led a blessed life in G_d on bread and water only, wherefore St David is also named "of the Aquatic Life." The stag signifies his power over the Old Serpent, for as a stag, having deprived serpents of their food, seeks a fountain of water and is refreshed as in youth with the strength received, so he, borne on high as on stags' feet, deprived the Old Serpent of the human race of his power of hurting him and fled to the fountain of life with constant flowings of tears, and, being renewed from day to day, so brought it to pass that in the name of the Holy Trinity, by the frugality of moderate repasts, he began to have saving knowledge [and] the power of governing demons.
AN ANGEL APPEARS TO ST. PATRICK
Then St Patrick, polished with Roman learning and teeming with excellences, having been made a Bishop, sought the people from whom he had lived in exile, among whom he might by unwearied toil replenish the lamp of fruitful endeveour by a double portion of the oil of charity, unwilling to place the same under a bushel, but on a stand that it might shine on all to the glory of the universal Father. He came to the country of the people of Ceredigion, wherein he sojourned a little while. He enters Demetica rura, the country of Dyved (Dyfed), and there wandering about arrived at length at the place which was named Vallis Rosina; and perceiving that the place was pleasant, he vowed to serve G_d faithfully there. But when he was revolving these things in his mind, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. "G_d," said he, "has not disposed this place for you, but for a son who is not yet born, nor will he be born until thirty years are past." On hearing these words Saint Patrick grieved and was confounded, and in anger he exclaimed, "Why has the Lord despised his servant who has served him from his infancy with fear and love? Why has he chosen another not yet born into this light nor will be born for thirty years?" And he prepared to fly, and to abandon his Lord, Jesus Christ, saying, "In as much as my labour is reduced to nothing in the sight of my Lord, and one is preferred before me, who is not yet born, I will go and submit no longer to such toil." But the Lord loved Patrick much, and sent to him his angel to coax him with kindly words, saying to him,
"Rejoice, Patrick, for the Lord hath sent me to you that I may show you the whole of the island of Ireland from the seat which is in Vallis Rosina," which now is named "the Seat of Patrick." And the angel says to him, "Exult, Patrick, for you shall be the apostle of the whole of that island which you see, and you shall suffer many things in it for the name of the Lord your God, but the Lord will be with you in all things which you shall do, for as yet it has not received the word of life; and there you ought to do good; there the Lord has prepared a seat for you; there you shall shine in signs and miracles, and you shall subdue the whole people to G_d. Let this be to you for a sign. I will show you the whole island. Let the mountains be bent; the sea shall be made smooth; the eye bearing forth across all things, looking out from [this] place, shall behold the promise." At these words he raised his eyes from the place in which he was standing, which now is called "the Seat of Patrick," and beheld the whole island. At length the mind of Patrick was appeased, and he cheerfully quitted the sacred spot for holy David; and preparing a ship in Porth Mawr, he raised from the dead a certain old man, Criumther by name, who for twelve years had lain buried by that shore; and St Patrick sailed for Ireland, taking with him the man he had just raised from the dead, who afterwards was made a Bishop.
THE SAINT'S CONCEPTION
When the aforesaid thirty years were elapsed, divine power sent Sant, King of the County of Ceredigion in Wales, as far as a community of the people of Dyved (Dyfed). And the King met a nun, a virgin called Nonnita,(St Non) a very beautiful and graceful girl, whom desiring, he took by force and violated. She conceived her son, St David, who neither before nor after knew a man, but, continuing in chastity of mind and body, led a most faithful pious life, for from that time of conception she lived on bread and water only. In the place wherein she conceived on being forced, there lies a small level space, pleasing to the sight, and a well supplied with moisture from above.
On this level space at that time of her conception two great stones appeared, one for the head and the other for the feet, which had not formerly been seen. For the earth, rejoicing at her conception, opened its breast that it might both preserve the modesty of the girl and foretell the importance of her offspring.
SILENCING GILDAS FROM THE WOMB
As her womb was growing, the mother, for the purpose of offering alms and oblations for childbirth according to correct custom, enters a certain Church to hear the preaching of the Gospel, which Saint Gildas, son of Caw, used to preach in the time of King Triphunus and his sons. When the mother had entered, Gildas became suddenly dumb, as if his throat were closed, and was silent. When asked by the people why he had stopped preaching and was mute, he replied, "I am able to speak to you in ordinary conversation, but preach I cannot. But go you out, and cause me to abide alone that so perhaps I may be able to preach." When, therefore, the congregation had gone outside, the mother secreted herself in a corner and lay hid, not that she would disobey the order, but thirsting with vehement desire for the precepts of life she remained to demonstrate the status of her mighty offspring. Then even a second time, trying with all the effort of his heart, restrained from heaven he prevailed nothing. Being frightened at this he speaks out in a high voice. "I adjure you," says he, "if any one lies hid from me, that you should show yourself from your hiding place." Then she answering said, "I lie hid here between the door and the wall." But he relying on divine providence said, "Go outside, but let the people re-enter the Church." And every one came into his seat as before, and Gildas preached clearly as from a trumpet. And the congregation asked holy Gildas saying, "Why could you not the first time preach the Gospel of Christ to us, anxious to listen?" And Gildas answered and said, "Call hither the nun, who went outside the church." And when the mother (St Non) was questioned, she confessed that she was pregnant, and Saint Nonnita / Non said, "Lo, I am with you." But he said, "The son, who is in the womb of that Lady, has grace and power and rank greater than I, because G_d has given him status and sole rule and primacy over all the saints of Britannia for ever, before and after judgment. Farewell, brothers and sisters. I am not able to abide here longer owing to the son of this nun, because to him is delivered sole rule over all the people of this island, and it is necessary for me to go to another island, and to leave the whole of Britannia to this woman's son." One thing was clearly manifest to all, that she was about to bring forth into the world one who in honourable status, effulgent wisdom, and eloquent speech would excel all the doctors of Britannia.
THE JEALOUS TYRANT
In the meantime there was a certain tyrant in the neighbourhood, who had heard from a prophecy of the druids, that a son was about to be born within his borders, whose power would fill the whole country. He, who, intent on earthly things only, deemed his highest good to consist in these lowest, was tortured with black envy. And so the place, where subsequently the son was born, being made known by the revelation of the druids, he said, "Alone will I sit above the spot for so many days, and whomsoever I shall find resting there or thereabouts shall fall and die by my sword." These things being so determined upon, and the nine months having elapsed whereby the time of birth was at hand, the mother on a day went forth along that path where the place of childbearing was, which the tyrant was watching in accordance with the druid's prognostic. And as the time for bringing forth was urgent, the mother sought the aforesaid spot. But on that day there prevailed such a storm of wind that none could even go out of doors, for there was a vast display of lightning, a dreadful clang of thunder, and great floods caused by hailstorms and rain. But the place, wherein the mother cried in her travail, shone with so serene a light that it glistened as though the sun was visible and God had brought it in front of the clouds. The mother in her labour had a certain stone close by, whereon, when urged by pain, she had leaned with her hands, for which reason the stone shows to those who examine it traces impressed as on wax. Dividing in the middle, it condoled with the sorrowing mother, one part leaping above the nun's head as far as her feet, when the child-bearer was bringing forth. In this place a church is situated, and in the foundation of its altar this stone lies covered.
ST DAVID'S BAPTISM
Again, when he was baptized by Aelvyw, Bishop of the people of Mynyw (or of the people of Munster), a fountain of clearest water, bursting forth, suddenly appeared in that place for the administration of baptism, which had never been seen before. Moreover, it cured the eyes of a blind monk, who held him while he was baptized; for that blind Saint, who, so it is said, had been born from his mother's womb without nostril and without eyes, perceiving that the infant, which he held in his bosom, was full of the grace of the Holy Ghost, took the water, wherein the body of the holy infant had been thrice dipped, and sprinkled his own face with it three times, and, sooner than said, he joyfully received the sight of his eyes and the full complement of his countenance. And all who were present glorified the Lord and holy David on that day.
HIS CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The place where holy St David was educated is called Vetus Rubus, Henvynyw; Nr Aberaeron and he grew up full of grace, and lovely to behold. And there it was that holy St David learned the alphabet, the psalms, the lessons for the whole year, the masses, and the synaxis; and there his fellow-disciples saw a pigeon with a gold beak playing at his lips, and teaching him, and singing hymns of God.
HE BECOMES A PRIEST
But it was at a subsequent time, when his virtuous merits had increased, he having preserved his flesh pure from the embraces of a wife, that he was made priest and raised to sacerdotal dignity.
PAULINUS TRAINS HIM TO BE A SCRIBE
After this he went to Paulens (or Paulinus) the scribe, a disciple of St. Germanus the Bishop, who on a certain island was leading a life pleasing to G_d, and who taught him in the three parts of reading until he was a scribe. Saint David tarried there many years reading and fulfilling what he read.
DAVID RESTORES PAULINUS' SIGHT
And it happened that while the holy St David was with the master, Paulens (or Paulinus), that the latter lost the sight of his eyes by reason of an intense pain in them. And he summoned all his disciples in succession that they might look into his eyes and bless them and they did as he had commanded them, and received relief from none of them. At last he invited the holy St David to him, and said to him, "Holy David, examine my eyes, for they pain me much." And the holy David answered and said, "My father, bid me not to look on thy countenance, for these ten years I have laboured at scripture with you, and so far I have not glanced at your face." And Paulens (or Paulinus), admiring his excessive modesty, says, "As it is so, it will suffice that you bless my eyes with a touch and I shall be well." And straightway, as he touched them, they were healed in the twinkling of an eye; and when the blindness of his eyes had been expelled, the master received the light which had been removed. Then thanks are rendered to G_d; and Paulens (or Paulinus), blessed holy St David with all the blessings which are written in the Old Testament and in the New.
AN ANGEL ANNOUNCES DAVID'S MINISTRY
Not long after an angel appeared to Paulens (or Paulinus). "It is time" (said he) "that holy David should double his talents by merchandise, and consign the talent of wisdom entrusted to him not to the earth, digging indolently with the slow languor of sloth, but augment the money which he has received of his Lord, with a larger increment of gain, so that he, appointed thereto, might, by amassing bundles of souls for the heavenly barns of eternal blessedness, bring them into the joy of the Lord." For from what numbers, after ploughing with the nail of exhortation and sowing with the seed of wheat, did he obtain the fruit of good harvest, of some indeed a hundred-fold, of others sixty-fold, of others thirty-fold! For not ploughing equally, with much force in the case of an ox and with less in the case of an ass, administering the strong meat of life to some and the milk of pious exhortation to others, confining some within the barriers of a monastic cloister and weaning others, who followed a broader life and whom he exhorted with divers instructions, from the deceitful lusts of worldly pleasures, he became all things to all men.
DAVID FOUNDS MANY MONASTERIES
For he founded twelve monasteries to the praise of G_d: first, arriving at Glastonbury, he built a Church there; then he came to Bath, and there causing deadly water to become salutary with a blessing, he endowed it with perpetual heat, rendering it fit for people to bathe; afterwards he came to Croyland, and Repton; thence to Colva, and Glascwm, and he had with him a two-headed altar; after that he founded the monastery of Leominster; afterwards in the region of Gwent, in a place which is called Raglan, he built a church; then he founded a monastery in a place which is called Llan Gyvelach, in the region of Gower, in which, afterwards, he received the altar, which was sent to him. Also he cured Peibio, the blind King of Erging, by restoring light to his eyes. Moreover, two Saints, Boducat and Maitrun, in the province of Cedweli, submitted to him. He also visited Davidstow (Cornwall, England) and France (Dirinon).
HE RETURNS TO HEN VYNYW
When, therefore, these had been founded in the usual way, and what was of use for canonical discipline had been arranged, and a rule for the monastic life had been established, he returned to the place, whence he had previously started forth on his wanderings, that is, to Vetus Rubus, Hen Vynyw. And Bishop Guistilianus, his fratruelis, sojourned there; and as they comforted one another with religious talk, Saint David said, "An angel of the Lord has spoken to me saying, ‘From the place where thou dost propose to serve, scarcely one in a hundred will be able to escape to the kingdom of G_d.' And he has shown me a place whence few shall go to hell, for everyone who shall have been buried in the cemetery of that place in sound faith shall obtain mercy."
DAVID AND HIS DISCIPLES GO TO VALLIS ROSINA
On a certain day St David and his three most faithful disciples, accompanied by a great throng of fellow-disciples, meet together, to wit, St Aeddan, Eiludd and Ysvael, and with one mind they go together to the place which the angel had mentioned beforehand, that is, Vallis Rosina, which the Britons commonly call Hodnant, in which place, when the first hearth had been kindled in the name of the Lord, the smoke rose upwards, and circling round filled, as it seemed, the whole of the island and Ireland besides.
THE DRUID BWYA OPPOSES DAVID
In the vicinity near the spot there was a certain chieftain and druid, called Bwya OR Boya, an Irishman, who sitting within the walls of his citadel while the beams of the sun were scattered over the world, trembled at the sight of such a portent and was overcome; and he was stirred with such resentment that he forgot his meal and spent the whole day grieving. To whom his wife came and asked why in so unwonted a manner he had forgotten his repast. "Why so sad and cast down," said she, "are you grieving in yourself?" To this he answered, "I grieve to have seen smoke rising from Vallis Rosina, which encircled the whole country, for I hold it as certain that the kindler of that fire shall excel all in power and renown in every part that the smoke of his sacrifice has encircled even to the end of the world, for that smoke as by a token predicts his fame." His wife, enraged, said to him, "Arise, and take a troop of servants, and with drawn swords follow up that man and his servants who have dared such an offence as to kindle fire on your lands without your bidding, and destroy them all." Bwya and his followers arrived to slay David and his disciples, but a fever suddenly took them as they proceeded on their way, and they were powerless to kill David or his attendants, but they blasphemed the Lord and holy David, and uttered evil words, for the wish to injure was not wanting, although the power to act was thwarted by the will of the Eternal and rendered void. When they had returned thence home, they met his wife, who said, "Our cattle and beasts of burden and sheep and all the stock are dead." And Bwya and his wife and all his household lamented bitterly, and they all wailed together and said, "That saint and his disciples, whom we blasphemed, have caused the death of our cattle. Let us, therefore, turn back and asking for mercy on bended knees, let us pray the servant of God that he may so perchance pity us and the cattle." And they return and approach the servant of God, and ask for mercy with tears and entreaties. "The land," say they, "whereon you are, shall be yours forever." And Bwya gave that day to holy David the whole of Vallis Rosina for a perpetual possession. And David, the servant of God, answered kindly, "Your cattle," said he, "shall be restored to life." And Bwya, when he returned home, found his cattle alive and well.
BWYA'S WIFE SENDS WOMEN TO TEMPT DAVID
Next day his wife, inflamed by malicious envy, called together her female slaves. "Go you," said she, "to the river which is called Alun, and display your naked bodies in the sight of the saints, and indulge in lewd talk." The female slaves obey, they make shameless sport, they simulate coition, they display love's alluring embraces. They entice the minds of some of the monks to wanton thoughts, and cause unrest in those of others. But all his disciples, unable to endure this intolerable affront, said to holy David, "Let us fly from this place because we cannot dwell here owing to the molestation of these spiteful sluts." But the father, Saint David, firm in patient longsuffering, whose purpose was neither dissolved when softened by prosperity, nor terrified when weakened by adversity, "Know," said he, "that the world hates you, but understand that the people of Israel, accompanied by the Ark of the Covenant, when they entered the land of promise, having been beaten in successive perilous battles but not overcome, destroyed the people dwelling near and the uncircumcised, which struggle by a clear token indicates our victory. For he, who seeks the promise of the heavenly country, must needs be wearied with adversities and yet not overcome, but at the last with Christ as comrade conquer the unclean stain of vices. We ought, therefore, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good, because if Christ is for us, who is against us? Be strong, therefore, in a war which may be won, lest your enemy rejoice in your flight. We ought to remain, and Bwya to leave." With these words he strengthened the hearts of the disciples, and that night St David fasted and his disciples till the morning.
BWYA'S VIRGIN DAUGHTER IS MURDERED
AND A HEALING SPRING BURSTS FORTH
That day Bwya's wife said to her stepdaughter, "Let us go together to the valley of the Alun and let us look for its cucumeri, that we may find nuts in them." And she humbly answered her stepmother, "Behold, I am ready." They went together to the bottom of the aforesaid valley, and when they had arrived there, the stepmother sat down and spoke softly to her stepdaughter, Dunod by name: "Place your head in my lap, for I wish quietly to examine your locks." And the guileless girl, who from her infancy had lived piously and chastely amid crowds of the worst women, bends her inoffensive head on the lap of her stepmother. But that savage stepmother quickly drew forth her knife, and cut off the head of that most happy virgin. Her blood flowed on the earth, and there sprang up from that spot a clear running fountain, which has healed in abundance many human sicknesses; which spot the people call to this day Merthyr Dunod. The stepmother fled from Bwya, and no one under heaven knows by what death she ended her life. And so Bwya the chieftain wept bitterly, but David with his disciples sang praises to the eternal G_d.
BWYA IS DESTROYED
And so Bwya resolved to destroy holy David, but his enemy, Lisci by name, the son of Paucaut, cut off his head in his citadel, for his gate lay open at daybreak, when his enemy arrived unexpectedly from his ship; and soon fire fell from heaven and speedily burnt up the whole of his building. Let no one doubt that it was the Lord for his servant, David's, sake, who struck down Bwya and his wife. For it is meet that destruction should overtake him, who was threatening with slaughter the man of G_d, and that he who was pitiless to the servants of G_d should suffer vengeance without pity.
DAVID BUILDS HIS MONASTERY
The malice of enemies having thus been expelled by the good G_d, the monastic community in the Lord built a notable monastery in the place, which the angel had foreshown.
LABOUR OF THE MONASTIC LIFE
And when everything was completed, the saintly father decreed with fervour such rigour of cenobitical purpose that every monk should toil at daily labour, and spend his life in common, working with his hands, "for he who labours not," says the apostle, "let him not eat." For knowing that untroubled rest was the fomenter and mother of vices, he subjected the shoulders of the monks to divine fatigues. For those, who bend thought and time to leisurely repose, generate an unstable spirit of apathy and restless incitements to lust.
THE ZEAL OF DAVID'S MONKS TO WORK
Therefore with increasing zeal they labour with hand and foot; they place the yoke on their shoulders; with unwearied arm they dig into the ground mattocks and spades; they carry in their saintly hands hoes and saws for cutting; they provide with their own labour all the necessities of the community. Possessions they regard with disdain; they reject the gifts of the unjust; they detest riches. No care of oxen is introduced for ploughing. Each to himself and the brethren is riches, each too an ox. When work was done, no complaint was heard, no conversation was held beyond what was necessary.
But each did the task enjoined either with prayer or well-directed meditation.
MONASTIC WORSHIP PRACTICES
When outside labour was finished, they returned to the cells of the monastery, and spent the whole day till evening in reading or writing or praying. On the approach of evening, when the stroke of the bell was heard, each one left his study, for if the stroke should sound in the ears of anyone, the top of a letter having been written or even half the form of that letter, they rose up the more quickly and left their tasks, and thus in silence proceeded to church without any idle talk. When the chanting of the psalms is done, the voice being in accord with the intention of the heart, they worship on bended knees until the stars are seen in heaven bringing the day to a close. The father alone, after all had gone out, poured forth a prayer in secret to G_d for the state of the Church.
At length they assemble at table. They relieve, each one, their wearied limbs, refreshed by partaking of supper, not however to excess, for too much, though it be of bread only, produces wantonness, but on that occasion they all take supper in accordance with the varying condition of their bodies and ages. Not dishes of various tastes lie before them or too dainty provisions, but having fed on bread and herbs (watercress) seasoned with salt, they assuage ardent thirst with a temperate sort of drink. On that occasion they provide for the sick and those advance in age, and even those wearied with a long journey, some refreshments of a more appetising sort, for one must not weight out to all in equal measure.
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Compared to raw and boiled broccoli, raw tomato and a raw apple:
After giving of thanks, they go to the church at the canonical ringing, and there they are insistent in watchings, prayers, and genuflections for about three hours. As long as they prayed in church, none dared unrestrainedly to yawn, none to sneeze, none to spit.
THE DISCIPLINE OF SLEEP
These things being so done, they compose their limbs for sleep. Waking and cockcrow, they devote themselves to prayer on bended knee, and then spend the whole day without sleep from morning to night. And in like manner they serve through other nights.
From the eve of the sabbath until after dawn light shall have begun in the first hour of the Lord's Day they apply themselves to watchings, prayers, and genuflections, one hour then being excepted after the matins of the sabbath.
OBEDIENCE, OWNERSHIP, SIMPLE GARB
They open out their thoughts to the father, and obtain the father's permission even for the requirements of nature. All things are common. Nothing is "mine" or "yours," for anyone who should say either "my book" or what not, would straightway be subjected to hard penance. They were wont to wear mean garments, especially skins. Obedience was not lacking to the father's order. There was exceeding perseverance in doing what was to be done. There was uprightness in all.
ENTERING THE COMMUNITY
For he who, desiring this manner of saintly living, should ask to enter the community of the brethren, would first remain for ten days at the doors of the monastery as one rejected, being subjected also to reproachful words. But if he stood his ground, duly exercising patience till the tenth day, he was first received under the elder who by authority presided over the entrance and served him. And when he had toiled there for a long time, many antipathies of his soul being broken, he was at length deemed worthy of entering the society of the brethren.
No superfluity was allowed; voluntary poverty was loved. For whosoever desired their mode of life, the saintly father would receive none of his substance, which he had parted with in renouncing the world, not even one penny, so to speak, for the use of the monastery. But being received naked, as one escaping from shipwreck, he might in no way extol or raise himself among the brethren, or relying on his wealth fail to enter upon equal toil with the brethren. Nor, vacillating as to the way of religion, might he extort by force what he left to the monastery, and move to wrath the patience of the brethren.
DAVID FOLLOWS THE PATTERN OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN DESERT MONKS
The father himself pouring forth fountains of tears daily, irradiating with censed holocausts of prayers, and blazing with a double flame of charity, consecrated with pure hands the due oblation of the Lord's Body, and thus after matins proceeded alone to angelic discourse. After this he immediately used to seek cold water, in which by lingering a long while wet he subdued every heat of the flesh. Afterwards he was wont to spend the whole day, unshaken and unwearied, in teaching, praying, and genuflecting, in care for the brethren, and also in feeding a multitude of the bereft, orphans, widows, the needy, the weak, the infirm, and pilgrims. So he began, continued, and ended. As for the rest of his severe living, although necessary for imitation, the intended shortness of this little work forbids us to set it forth. But imitating the Egyptian monks such as St Anthony as he led a life similar to theirs.
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Most of what is known about the life of St Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony, written in Greek around 360 AD by Athanasius of Alexandria. It depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primordial landscape has an absolute connection to the divine truth, which always is synonymous with that of Athanasius as the biographer. Sometime before 374 AD, it was translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch. The Latin translation helped the Life become one of the best known works of literature in the Christian world, a status it would hold through the Middle Ages. In addition to the Life, several surviving homilies and epistles of varying authenticity provide some additional autobiographical detail.
St Anthony was born in Cooma near Herakleopolis Magna in Lower Egypt in 251 AD to wealthy landowner parents. When he was about 18 years old, his parents died and left him with the care of his unmarried sister.
There are various legends associating him with pigs: one is that for a time he he worked as a swineherd.
In 285 AD, at the age of 34, he decided to follow the words of Jesus, who had said: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me." which is part of the Evangelical counsels. Taking these words quite literally, St Anthony gave away some of the family estate to his neighbours, sold the remaining property, donated the funds thus raised to the poor, placed his sister with a group of Christian virgins, a sort of proto-nunnery at the time, and himself became the disciple of a local hermit.]
The appellation "Father of Monasticism" is misleading, as Christian monasticism was already being practiced in the deserts of Egypt. Ascetics commonly retired to isolated locations on the outskirts of cities. St Anthony is notable for being one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization. His anchoretic lifestyle was remarkably harsher than that of his predecessors. By the 2nd century there were also famous Christian ascetics, such as Saint Thecla. Saint Anthony decided to follow this tradition and headed out into the alkaline desert region called Nitria in Latin (Wadi El Natrun today), about 95 km (59 miles) west of Alexandria, some of the most rugged terrain of the Western Desert. Here he remained for some 13 years.
A CORNISH KING BECOMES A MONK
When, therefore, the report of holy David's good name was heard, Kings and Princes of this world abandon their kingdoms and seek his monastery. Hence it was that Constantine, King of the Cornishmen, abandoned his Kingdom and bent the necks of his pride, untamed before, in humble obedience in the monastery of this father. And when he had followed this mode of life for a long time in faithful service, he at length founded a monastery in another far-off country.
A Saint Constantine is revered in Devon and Cornwall. Based purely on similarity of a common name, some have identified him with the monarch Constantine of Dumnonia, despite the latter's condemnation for immoral behaviour by Gildas. If this is correct, he must have mended his ways. He gives his name to the parish church of Milton Abbot in Devon and the villages of Constantine and Constantine Bay in Cornwall, also extinct chapels in Illogan and Dunterton. The saint at Constantine Bay was almost certainly the 'wealthy man' of this name mentioned in the Life of Saint Petroc. He was converted to Christianity by that holy man at nearby Little Petherick after the deer Constantine was hunting took shelter with him. A Constantine "King of the Cornishmen" also appears in theLife of Saint David as having given up his crown in order to enter this saint's monastery at St David's.
THE COMMUNITY'S NEED FOR WATER AND WINE
On a certain day when the brethren were assembled together, they complained, saying, "This place of yours," say they, "has waters in winter, but in summer scarcely does the river flow in a tiny stream." Having heard this, the holy St David started out and arrived at a place very near, where an angel was wont to talk with him; and praying there hard and long, with eyes raised to heaven, he asked for the water needed. With the voice of his praying there flowed a fountain of clearest water. And because the country was not fruitful in vines, it was turned into wine for the use of the sacrament of the Lord's Body and Blood so that in his time it never lacked pure wine, a most worthy gift to such a man from the Lord G_d. But we know of other sweet waters too, given by the disciples in imitation of the father, serviceable for human use and health.
DAVID FINDS WATER FOR HIS NEIGHBOURS
Also, on a day, a certain rustic, named Terdi, praying and beseeching much, sought from him services of love, saying, "Our land is drained dry of water, wherefore we have a laborious journey to get water, for the river is a long way off." The holy St David, pitying the need of his neighbours, humbly started forth, believing that he could find water by the suppliant request of his prayer and by his most humble compassion. Starting out, therefore, and opening a little bit of the surface of the soil with the point of his bachall, a most clear fountain gushed forth, which, bubbling up in a continual vein, supplies the coldest water in time of heat.
ST. AEDDAN, THE BOOK AND THE OXEN
On another occasion while Saint Aeddan, his disciple, chanced to be reading out of doors to confirm what he had received of doctrine, the Prior of the monastery came and bade him take two oxen and go bring timber from the valley, for the wood was situated at a distance. St Aeddan, the disciple, obeyed sooner than the word, without even stopping to close the book, and made for the wood. When the timber was made ready and placed on the animals, he took the road back. Now as the road on which he travelled led to a steep precipice, the oxen were hurled into the sea together with the vehicle. As they are rushing over, he makes the sign of the cross over them, and so it was that he received the oxen safe and sound from the waves, together with the vehicle, and joyfully proceeded on his way. While he journeyed, there begins such a deluge of rain that the ditches flowed in torrents. When the journey was done, and the oxen released from toil, he goes where he had left the book and finds it open and uninjured by the rain even as he left it. While the brethren were listening to these events, both the grace of the father and the humility of the disciple were equally extolled. For the grace of the father pointed to the book, untouched by the rain and preserved for the obedient disciple, while the humility of the disciple preserves the oxen safe for the father.
St AEDDAN FOUNDS A MONASTERY IN IRELAND
When Saint Aeddan had been fully instructed, being potent in virtues and thoroughly purified from vices, he made for Ireland. And having constructed a monastery there, which in the Irish language is called Guernin, Ferns, he led a most holy life.
An old tale is often told of how, while Aeddan and Teilo were reading in the cloister at Mynyw (St. Davids), they were called upon to replenish the monastery's fuel stores. Annoyed at having been drawn away from their studies, the two monks took their axes off to the woods; but found their task much easier than expected when two tame stags aided them in carrying the wood home. There is a well and a pool, named after Aeddan, within two miles of St. Davids and he is patron of the church at Llawhaden in Pembrokeshire.
Later, Aeddan crossed the Irish Sea and founded the monastery of Guernin (Ferns) in the Emerald Isle, where he was known as Maeddog. He is said to have left his bell behind, which St. Dewi had given him, and found it miraculously transported to his side! Traditionally, he also helped halt the English invasions of Britain by the use of prayer. He is, unfortunately, widely confused with an early 7th century Bishop of Ferns of the same name and is sometimes, wrongly, called a Bishop of Llandaff. The true tradition appears to have been that, in old age, he returned to his roots in Ergyng and became the fifth Bishop of that Kingdom. He died around AD 608. St Aeddan’s (Aidan) feast day is 31st January.
AN ANGEL WARNS AEDDAN THAT SOMEONE WILL POISON DAVID THE FOLLOWING DAY
When on an Easter Eve he was the more earnestly engaged in prayer, an angel appeared to him, saying, "Do you know that tomorrow at mealtime poison will be placed by certain of the brethren before the venerable Saint David, to wit, your father?" Saint Aeddan answered and said, "I know it not." The angel said to him, "Send one of the servants to the St David to tell him." Saint Aeddan answered and said, "Neither is there a ship ready, nor is the wind right for sailing." The angel said to him, "Let your fellow disciple, called St Scutinus, proceed to the seashore, for I will bear him across thither." The disciple obeys and goes to the shore, and enters the water to his knee. And a monster took him and carried him across to the confines of the monastery.
DAVID AND THE POISONED BREAD
When the solemnities of Easter were over, the holy father, Saint David, goes to the refectory to a meal with the brethren. There met him his former disciple, St Scutinus, who told him all the things which had been done against him and what the angel had enjoined concerning him. They joyfully recline together in the refectory, giving thanks to G_d. When prayer was ended, up rose the deacon, who had been wont to minister to the father, and placed on the table the bread prepared with poison, the cellarer and the prior consenting to the same. St Scutinus, who has also another name, Scolanus, stood up and said, "Today, brother, you will perform no service to the father, for I myself will do it." The deacon withdrew in confusion, being conscious of the crime, and rigid with astonishment. And holy St David took the poisoned bread, and dividing it into three parts, gave one to a little dog which stood outside by the door, and as soon as it had tasted the bit it died a wretched death, for in the twinkling of an eye all its hair fell off, so that its entrails burst forth, its skin splitting all over; and all the brethren who saw it were astonished. And holy St David threw the second part to a raven, which was in its next in an ash, which was between the refectory and the river on the south side, and as soon as it touched it with its beak, it fell lifeless from the tree. But the third part holy St David held in his hand, and blessed, and ate it with giving of thanks, and all the brethren looked at him, amazed with wonder, for about three hours. He dauntless preserved his life intact, no sign of the deadly poison appearing. And holy St David told his brethren everything which had been done by the three men aforesaid. And all the brethren stood up and lamented aloud, and cursed those treasonous men, to wit, the prior, the cellarer, and the deacon, and damned them and their successors, declaring with one voice that they should never have a part in the heavenly kingdom throughout eternity.
THE IRISH ABBOT BARRE USES DAVID'S HORSE TO CROSS THE SEA
At another time too, when among others that most faithful Abbot of the Irish, whose name was Barre, had an unquenchable desire to visit the relics of the holy apostles, St Peter and St Paul, and undertook with unwearied feet the journey devoted to pilgrimage, after he had completed his salutary vow and was returning to the enclosures of his monastery, he visited the holy man, Saint David; and having sojourned there a little while by request in holy intercourse, he was delayed for a longer period, for the ship, wherein he had made ready to revisit his native land, was hindered by lack of winds. Fearing lest there should arise contentions, strifes, and quarrels among the brethren in the absence of their abbot, the bond of charity being relaxed, even as bees, when the King is destroyed, pull asunder and ruin the stores of honeycombs, which they had secured with firm fastening, he searched with anxious mind and found a wondrous path. For on a day he asked for the horse whereon the holy father, St David, had been wont to ride for ecclesiastical purposes, and obtained leave. Having received the father's (St David’s) blessing he goes to the harbour, enters the sea, and putting his trust in the blessing of the father and the support of the horse he uses it for a ship, in as much as the horse ploughed through the swelling masses of the waves as through a level field.
BARRE CONVERSES WITH ST. BRENDAN IN THE SEA
As he was proceeding further into the sea, he appeared where Saint Brendan was leading a wondrous life on a marine animal. When Saint Brendan saw a man horse-riding in the sea, he was astonished and said, "G_d is wonderful in his saints." The horseman drew near where he was, so that they were able to exchange greetings. When they had saluted one another, St Brendan asked whence he was, and from whom he had come, and how he rode a horse in the sea. Barre, after having narrated to him the causes of his pilgrimage, said, "Since the vessel's delay kept me from my brethren, the holy father, St David, gave me the horse whereon he had been wont to ride that thereby I might satisfy my need, and so, fortified by his blessing, I entered on such a journey." Brendan said to him, "Go in peace, I will come and see him." Barre arrived in his native land, his journey unbroken, and narrated to the brethren who met him what things had been done.
They kept the horse in the service of the monastery till its death. But after its death they made a painted image of the horse as a memorial of the miracle, which even till now may be found in the island of the Irish, covered with gold. It is also renowned for the number of its miracles.
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St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert, known also as Brendan the Voyager, was born in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484; he died at Enachduin, now Annaghdown, in 577. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. For five years he was educated under St. Ita, "the Brigid of Munster", and he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, at the foot of Brandon Hill. It was from here that he set out on his famous voyage for the Land of Delight. The old Irish Calendars assigned a special feast for the "Egressio familiae S. Brendani", on 22 March; and St Aengus the Culdee, in his Litany, at the close of the eighth century, invokes "the sixty who accompanied St. Brendan in his quest of the Land of Promise". Naturally, the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, and, soon, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. Thus, in a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands, in order to meet the wants of those who came for spiritual guidance to St. Brendan.
Having established the See of Ardfert, St. Brendan proceeded to Thomond, and founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He then journeyed to Wales, and thence to Iona, and left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After a three years' mission in Britain he returned to Ireland, and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. He founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo. His most celebrated foundation was Clonfet, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert, and his feast is kept on 16 May.
DAVID RESCUES MODOMNOC
On another occasion also, his other disciple, St Modomnoc by name, was excavating a road with the brethren on the steep near the confines of the monastery, whereby an easier access might be made for wayfarers to convey their burdens of necessities. He said to one of those who were working, "Why do you work so lazily and so slowly?" The man, stirred by the spirit of anger against him who said the words, lifted up the iron which he held in his hand, to wit, a two-edged axe, and attempted to strike him on the head. The holy father, St David, saw this from a distance, and raised his hand towards them, making the sign of the cross; and so the hand of him striking was withered.
AEDDAN'S BELL FLIES ACROSS THE IRISH SEA
But almost a third part or fourth of Ireland is subject to St David the Waterman, where Maeddog was, who also from infancy is Aeddan, to whom Saint David gave a little bell, which is called "Cruedin." But he, sailing to Ireland, forgot his little bell. And Maeddog sent a messenger to holy St David that he might send the dear little bell across to him. And Saint David said, "Go, boy, to your master." And it was done while that messenger was returning. And lo, the little bell on the morrow was alongside of the renowned St Aeddan, an angel carrying it across the sea before his messenger had arrived.
After that the aforesaid St Modomnoc had devoted himself for a long lapse of years to the humility of obedience, his virtuous merits increasing, he sought the island of Ireland. The whole multitude of bees followed the ship which he had entered and settled with him in the ship, where he had sat down, on the ship's bow. For as he attended on the bees' quarters, he paid heed with the rest of the work of the brotherhood to the hives in rearing the young of the swarms, whereby he might procure some luxuries of sweeter food for those in need. He, loath to defraud the fraternal community, returned, reappearing in the presence of the holy St David, and attended by the swarm of bees, which flew to their own quarters. St David blessed him for his humility. Then bidding farewell to St David and the brethren, and being saluted, he went away, but again the bees follow him. And so it happened that, whenever he started forth, they also followed. Again, a third time, he sailed for a while, and it happened as before. The swarms followed him, and he returned to David thrice. On the third occasion holy St David dismissed Modomnoc to sail with the bees, and he blessed them, saying, "May the land to which you hasten abound with your offspring. Never may your progeny be wanting in it.
Our monastery will be deserted forever by you. Never shall your offspring grow up in it." That this has continued till now we have learnt by experience, for we find swarms imported into the monastery of St David, but they, remaining there a little while, gradually cease. Ireland, however, wherein never could bees exist till that time, is enriched with abundance of honey. And so by the blessing of St David they have multiplied in the land of Ireland, since it is agreed that they could by no means exist there at first, for if you should cast Irish earth or stone in the midst of bees, they would shun it greatly, being scattered and flying away.
When he landed in Ireland, St Modomnoc set up a church at Bremore, near Balbriggan in Co.Dublin. Here, he established the bees in a pleasant garden similar to the one in Wales. To this day, the place is known as "the Church of the Beekeeper." St Mondomnoc’s feast day is 13th February.
ST. DAVID SETS FORTH FOR JERUSALEM
As his merits increased, his offices of honour increased also. For one night an angel visited him, and said to him, "Tomorrow you will gird yourself. Put on your shoes. Start to go to Jerusalem. Undertake the desired journey. But two others will I call also to be your companions on the way, to wit Eiludd," who is now commonly called Teilo, who formerly was a monk in his monastery, "and Padarn," whose life and miracles are contained in his history. The holy St David, wondering at the word of command, said, "How shall this be, for the comrades whom you promise are at a distance of three days, or many more, from us and from themselves? By no means, therefore, shall we come together tomorrow." The angel informs him, "I will go this night to each of them, and they shall assemble at the place appointed, which I now show." Saint David, making no delay, settled what was necessary for the monastery, received the blessing of the brethren, and started on his way early in the morning. He arrives at the appointed place, finds there the promised brethren, and together they enter on the journey. Their pilgrimage is on terms of equality, for none in mind is prior to another, each of them being servant, each being master. They persevere in prayer, and water the way with tears. The further the foot proceeded, the reward increased, they being one as to their mind, one in joy, one in sorrow.
IN GAUL DAVID RECEIVES THE GIFT OF TONGUES
When they had sailed over the Britannic sea and were come into the Gauls and were hearing the strange languages of diverse nations, St David (Dewi Sant) was endowed with the gift of tongues like that apostolic gathering of old, lest when in need, among foreign peoples they might want an interpreter, and also that they might confirm the faith of others with the word of truth.
CONSECRATION BY THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM
At length they arrive at the confines of the desired city, Holy Jerusalem. On the night before their arrival an angel appeared to the Patriarch in a dream, saying, "Three Christian men are coming from the limits of the west, whom you are to receive with joy and the grace of hospitality, and to consecrate for me to the episcopate." The Patriarch made ready three most honourable seats, and when the saints came into the city he rejoiced with great joy and received them graciously into the seats which had been prepared. After indulging in spiritual conversation, they return thanks to G_d. Then supported by the divine choice, he promotes holy St David to the archepiscopate.
THE THREE PREACH IN JERUSALEM
When these things were ended, the Patriarch addressed them and said, "Obey my voice, and attend to what I direct. The power of the Jews (says he) grows strong against the Christians. They alarm us, they reject the faith. Attend, therefore, and go preach daily that their vehemence, being confuted, may quiet down, knowing that the Christian faith is spread abroad to the limits of the west and sounded forth to the utmost parts of the earth." They obey his command. They preach, each of them, every day. Their preaching becomes acceptable. Many come together to the faith. Others they strengthen.
THE PATRIARCH GIVES FOUR GIFTS
When all things are done, they undertake to return to their native land. Then it was that the Patriarch presented St David with four gifts, to wit, a consecrated altar, whereon he was wont to consecrate the Lord's Body, which, potent in innumerable miracles, has never been seen by men from the death of its pontiff, but covered with skin lies hidden away. Also, aremarkable bell, which too is renowned for miracles. A bachall (staff). And a Tunic woven with gold. The bachall, resplendent with glorious miracles, is extolled throughout the whole of our country for its wonders. "But because," said the Patriarch, "they are a labour for you to carry on the journey, while going back to your country, return in peace. I shall send them over after you." They bid farewell to the father, and come to their native land.
They severally await the promise of the Patriarch and receive their gifts sent to them through angels,St David in the monastery called Llan Gyvelach, Padarn and Eiludd (Teilo) in their respective monasteries. Therefore it is that the common people call them gifts from heaven.
THE ANTI-PELAGIAN SYNOD AT BREVI (LlANDDEWI BREFI) – SYNOD OF BREFI C 545AD
Because after the aid of Saint Germanus for the second time the Pelagian heresy was reviving, introducing the vigor of its stubbornness, like the venom of a poisonous serpent, into the inmost joints of the country, there gathers a universal Synod of all the Bishops of Britannia. Accordingly, one hundred and eighteen bishops having assembled, there came an innumerable multitude of Presbyters, Abbots, and other orders, Kings, Princes, men and women, so that this vast army covered all the places round about. The Bishops whisper among themselves, saying, "So great is the multitude that not only a voice, but even a trumpet's call will fail to sound into the ears of everybody. Consequently almost the whole of the people will be unaffected (or alienated) by the preaching, and will carry the heretical taint back with them as they return home." It is arranged, therefore, to preach to the people in this manner, that a heap of garments should be piled up on high ground, whereon one should stand and preach from above; and whosoever should be endowed with such gift of speech that his discourse sounded into the ears of all, who stood afar off, should be made with universal consent metropolitan archbishop. Then at the appointed place, the name of which is Brevi (Brefi or Llanddewi Brefi), they endeavor to preach on a heaped tower of garments, but scarcely does speech, being swallowed as it were in the throat, reach the very nearest.
The people wait for the word, but the most part hear it not. One after another tries to expound, but they avail nothing. The difficulty increases. They fear the people will return to their homes with the heresy undiscussed. "We have preached," say they, "and have no gain. And so our labour is rendered void." One of the Bishops, called Paulinus, rises, with whom the pontiff, Saint David, had formerly read, and says, "There is one, made Bishop by the Patriarch, who has not yet appeared at our Synod, an eloquent man, full of grace, approved in religion, who has an angel as comrade, a lovable man, pleasing in feature, distinguished in form, upright in stature of four cubits. My advice, therefore, is that you invite him."
Below in Italics is inserted by Archivist:
Pelagius (AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who denied the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him, the only "grace" necessary was the declaration of the law;humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid. He also, therefore, denied the more specific doctrine of original sin as developed by Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending his doctrine against theologians teaching the Catholic Faith. They held that Catholicism came from the apostles and that Pelagius was spreading novelties in the Faith unknown to the apostolic tradition.
Due to his status as a heretic, little of his work has come down to the present day except in the quotes of his opponents. However, more recently some have defended Pelagius as a misunderstood orthodox:
Pelagius was born about 354 AD. While his exact birthplace is not known, the Encyclopedia of World Biography states that, "wide spread evidence indicates that he came originally from the British Isles", although a few sources suggest he may have been born in Brittany in modern France. He was a Culdee Monk and wore the moon shaped tonsure of that ascetic Celtic Johannine Christian Order. He became better known c. 380 AD when he moved to Rome to write and teach about his ascetic practices. There, he wrote a number of his major works: "De fide Trinitatis libri III" ("On Faith In The Trinity: Three Books"), "Eclogarum ex divinis Scripturis liber primus" ("Excerpts Out Of Divine Scriptures: One Book"), and "Commentarii in epistolas S. Pauli" ("Commentary On The Epistles Of Saint Paul"). Unfortunately, most of his work survives only in the quotations of his opponents.
Only in the past century have works attributable to Pelagius been identified as such. Pelagius's commentary on Romans is currently available in English, as translated by Theodore De Bruyn (Clarendon Press, 2002), as well as a collection of other writings by Pelagius himself, translated into English by B. R. Rees (The Boydell Press, 1998).
In Rome, Pelagius became concerned about the moral laxity of society. He blamed this laxity on the theology of divine grace preached by St Augustine, amongst others.
Around 405 AD, it is said that Pelagius heard a quotation from Augustine's Confessions: "Give me what you command and command what you will". This verse concerned Pelagius because it seemed that Augustine was teaching doctrine contrary to traditional Christian understandings of grace and free will, turning man into a mere automaton.
When Alaric sacked Rome in 410 AD, Pelagius and his close follower Caelestius fled to Carthage where he continued his work and briefly encountered St. Augustine in person. He is subsequently in Palestine as late as 418 AD.
DAVID IS PERSUADED TO ATTEND THE SYNOD OF BREFI (C) 545AD
Messengers are forthwith sent. They come to the holy Bishop. They announce for what purpose they had arrived. The holy Bishop refuses, saying, "Let no one tempt me. What they cannot do, who am I that I can do it? I acknowledge my lowliness. Depart in peace." Messengers are sent a second and third time, but neither so does he consent. At last the most holy men and the most faithful brethren, Deinol and Dubricius (Dyfrig), are sent. Saint David, the Bishop, foreseeing this by the spirit of prophecy, says to his brethren, "Today, brethren, most holy men are visiting us. Receive them with a joyful mind. Procure fishes with bread and water." The brethren arrive. They salute one another. They enter into holy conversation. A meal is placed before them. They affirm that never will they eat in this monastery unless he returns with them to the synod.
To this the saint replies, "Refuse you I cannot. Eat, and we will visit the synod together, but I am unable to preach on the occasion. Yet with prayers I shall bring what little help I may."
DAVID RAISES A BOY FROM THE DEAD
They start out and arrive at a place very near to the Synod, and lo! They hear lamentable mourning close by. Says the Saint to his companions, "I will go where this great wailing may be." His companions answered and said, "We will go to the assembly lest our delay vexes those who are waiting for us." But the man of God went forward and came to the place where the lamentation was, by the river Teivi. And lo! a widowed mother was watching over the body of her dead boy, who was called Magnus. Blessed David consoled the mother and comforted her with salutary admonitions, but she, having heard of his fame, threw herself at his feet, and begged with distressing appeals that he should have pity on her. The man of G_d, having compassion on human weakness, went near to the body of the deceased, and watered the face with tears, and threw himself on the body of the dead, and prayed to the Lord, and said, "O Lord, my G_d, who did descend into this world for us sinners from the bosom of the Father to redeem us from the jaws of the old enemy, have pity on this widow, and restore life to her only son, and breathe into him the breath of life, that thy name may be magnified in all the earth." Then the limbs became warm, the soul returned, the body stirred. And taking the boy's hand, he restored him alive and well to his mother. The mother turns her sad weeping into joyful tears and says, "To me my son was dead, but to you and G_d let him live henceforth." The holy man took the boy and placed on his shoulders the copy of the Gospel which he always carried on his breast, and caused him to go with him to the synod. Afterward, as long as he lived, he led a holy life for many years. And all, who beheld that miracle, praised the Lord and holy St David.
DAVID PREACHES TO THE SYNOD OF BREFI
Then he enters the Synod. The company of Bishops rejoices. The people are glad. The whole army exults. He is asked to preach. He rejects not the wish of the council. They bid him mount the pile of garments, but he refused. So he orders the boy newly raised from the dead to spread his handkerchief under his feet. On this he stands, and expounded the gospel and the law as from a trumpet. In the presence of all a snow-white pigeon, sent from heaven, settled on his shoulders, which remained as long as he preached. While he was holding forth in a voice clear to all, both to those nearest to him and equally to those who were far off, the ground beneath him swells upward and is raised into a hill. Placed on the top he is seen by all, so that standing on a high hill he might lift his voice like a trumpet. On the top of this hill a church is situated (St David’s Church, Llanddewi Brefi). The heresy is expelled. The faith is confirmed in sound hearts. All are in agreement. They pay thanks to G_d and to Saint David.
DAVID'S SEE DECLARED THE METROPOLIS
Then, blessed and extolled by the mouth of all, he is with the consent of all the Bishops, Kings, Princes, Nobles, and all grades of the whole Britannic race, made Archbishop, and his monastery too is declared the metropolis of the whole country, so that whoever ruled it should be accounted Archbishop.
OLD CHURCH RULES PRESERVED IN DAVID'S OWN HAND
The heresy, therefore, having been expelled, decrees of catholic and ecclesiastical rule are confirmed, which, owing to the frequent and cruel attacks of enemies, have become void, and, being almost forgotten, have ceased to be. By these, as though roused from heavy slumber, they one and all zealously waged the battles of the Lord. They are found in part in the oldest writings of the father, enjoined in his own sacred hand.
THE SYNOD OF VICTORY, AND FURTHER RULES
Then, when a number of seasons were gone, another synod assembles, called Victory, in which a crowd of bishops, priests, and abbots, having come together, renew what they had confirmed in the former, after a close and severe scrutiny, some useful matters being added. So from these two synods, all the churches of our country take their standard and rule by Roman authority. The decrees which he had affirmed with his mouth, the Bishop alone committed to writing with his own sacred hand.
DAVID'S INFLUENCE IS EVERYWHERE
Consequently in every place throughout the whole country the brethren built monasteries. Everywhere indications of churches are heard. Everywhere sounds of prayers are raised to the stars. Everywhere miracles are reported to the bosom of the Church on unwearied shoulders. Everywhere offerings of charity are distributed to the needy with an open hand. Saint David, the Bishop, was made the chief overseer of all, the chief protector, the chief spokesman, from whom all received the rule and model of right living. He was the standard for all, he was consecration, he was benediction, he was absolution and correction, learning to readers, life to the needy, nourishment to orphans, support to widows, head to the country, rule to the monks, a way to seculars, all things to all men. What swarms of monks he engendered! With what advantage he profited all! With what blaze of miracles he shone!
ST DAVIDS' PRIMARY RIGHT OF SANCTUARY
All the Bishops surrendered to holy St David both monarchy and primacy, and they agreed to the granting of his right of sanctuary, that it should apply to every ravisher and homicide and sinner, and to every evil person fleeing from place to place, in priority to every Saint and Kings and persons of the whole Britannic island, in every kingdom and in each region, wherever there may be land consecrated to holy St David. And let no kings or elders or governors, or even Bishops or superiors and Saints, dare to provide right of sanctuary in priority to holy St David. Indeed he provides right of sanctuary before every person, and there is none prior to him, because he is head and leader and primate over all the Britons. And all the saints ordained that whosoever should not observe that decree, namely Saint David's right of sanctuary, should be anathema and accursed.
DAVID LIVED TO AGE 147
And thus continuing into old age he was renowned as the head of all the Britannic race and the honour of his country (Cymru / Wales), which old age he completed in around one hundred and forty-seven years.
AN ANGEL FORETELLS THE SAINT'S DEATH
When the day was drawing nigh for compensating the hallowed rewards of good deeds, onthe eighth day before the first of March, while the brethren were observing matins, an angel addressed him, announcing in a loud voice, "The long-desired day," said he, "is now reckoned near at hand." The holy Bishop recognised the friendly voice, and said to him with a joyful mind, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." The brethren merely received the sound into their ears without distinguishing the words, for they had heard them conversing together and were fallen to the earth in terror. Then the whole monastery is filled with angelic harmonies and sweet-smelling fragrance. The holy Bishop calling with a loud voice, with mind intent on heaven, says, "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Again the angel speaks in a clear voice, the brethren understanding the same, "Prepare and gird yourself. On the first of March the Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by a great host of angels, will come to meet you."
ST. DAVID KEEPS VIGIL
When these things were heard, the brethren made great lamentation with violent sobs. There begins a great sorrowing. The monastery overflows with tears, saying, "O Saint David, Bishop, remove our sadness." He, caressing them and sustaining them with comforting consolations, said, "Brothers, be constant. The yoke, which with single mind you have taken, bear to the end; and whatsoever you have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfill." From that hour, therefore, to the day of his death he remained in the church and preached to all.
THE ANGEL SPREADS THE NEWS
The report, therefore, was carried most swiftly in one day throughout the whole of Britannia, Wales and Ireland by the angel, saying, "Let it be known that next week your master, holy St David, will migrate from this light to the Lord."
THE ASSEMBLY OF MOURNERS
Then there arrive from all sides assemblies of Saints, like bees to a hive on the approach of a storm, who hasten with speed to visit the holy father. The monastery overflows with tears. Lamentation resounds to the stars. Youths mourn him as a father, old men as a son. On the intervening Sunday, while a very great multitude is listening, he preached a most noble sermon, and consecrated the Lord's Body with pure hands. Having partaken of the Body and Blood of the Lord, he was immediately seized with pain and became unwell. When he had finished the office and blessed the people, he addressed them all, saying, "My brethren, persevere in these things which you have learnt from me and which you have seen with me. I on the third day of the week on the first of March shall go the way of my fathers. Farewell in the Lord. I shall depart. Never shall we be seen on this earth again." Then the voice of all the faithful was raised in lamentation and in wailing, saying, "O that the earth would swallow us, the fire consume us, the sea cover us! O that death by a sudden irruption would overtake us! Would that the mountains would fall upon us! Almost all yielded themselves to death. From Sunday night till the fourth day of the week when he was dead, all who came remained weeping, fasting and watching.
THE SAINT'S HOLY DEATH
And so when the third day of the week was come, at cock crowing the monastery is filled with angelic choirs, and is melodious with heavenly songs, and is full of sweetest fragrance. At the hour of matins, when the clerks were replying to the songs with psalms and hymns, the Lord Jesus deigned to bestow his presence for the consolation of the father, as he had promised by the angel. When he saw him, he altogether rejoiced in spirit. "Take me," said he, "after thee." With these words he gave back his life to G_d, Christ being his companion, and accompanied by the angelic host he went to the abodes of Heaven.
THE PEOPLES LAMENT
O, who then could bear the weeping of the saints, the sad sighs of the anchorites, the groaning of the priests, the wailing of the disciples, who exclaimed, "By whom shall we be taught?", the grief of the pilgrims, saying, "By whom shall we be aided?", the despair of Kings, who said, "By whom shall we be appointed, corrected and established? Who so very mild a father as St David? Who shall intercede for us to the Lord?", the lamentations of peoples, the grief of paupers, the crying of sick folk, the clamor of monks, the tears of virgins, married people, penitents, young men, young women, boys, girls, infants suckling breasts? Why do I delay? The voice of all was one of mourners, for Kings grieved for him as an arbiter, old men wailed for him as a brother, adults honoured him as a father, nay,he was one whom all venerated as G_d.
ST DAVID IS BURIED
And so his body, carried in the arms of his holy brethren, and accompanied by a great throng, is honourably committed to the earth and buried in his own monastery – site of the present St David’s Cathedral. But his soul without any limit of passing time is crowned for ever and ever.
HOW THIS BOOK WAS MADE
These and many other things did the holy father,St David, do, while a corruptible and burdensome habitation carried his soul. But out of many we have in a mean form of speech supplied a few to assuage the thirst of the ardent. Even as none can exhaust to dryness in the hollow of a shallow vessel a stream flowing from a perpetual fountain, so none can commit to writing even with an iron pen all his miraculous signs, his most devoted practice of the virtues, and his observance of the commandments. But these few things out of many, as we have said, we have collected together into one place for example to all and for the glory of the father. They have been found scattered in very old writings of the country, especially of the monastery itself, which have survived until now, eaten away by the constant devouring of moths and the yearly boring of ages through the hours and seasons, and written according to the old style of the ancients. Having brought them together into one place, as from a flowery garden of diverse plants, I, sucking most discriminatingly as it were with the mouth of a bee, have collected them to the glory of so great a father and for the use of others, lest they should perish. But those things, now that he has laid aside the burden of the flesh and sees G_d face to face, which he does and has done at constant intervals of time, so much the more effectively as he adheres closer to G_d, he, who would wish to know of them, can do so from the relation of many.
LET THE READER PRAY FOR RHYGYVARCH
And as for me, who am named Rhygyvarch, and who, although rashly, have applied the capacity of my small intelligence to these things, let those who shall have perused them with a devout mind, render assistance by their prayers that, because the clemency of the father, like that of spring, has conducted me in the summer heat of the flesh to a tiny flower of intelligence, it may at length lead me by mature works before the end of my course, when the vapours of concupiscence are exhausted, to the fruit of a good harvest. So that, when the reapers shall separate the tares of the enemy and fill the barns of the heavenly country with most carefully picked bundles, they may place me as a tiny sheaf of the latest harvest within the hall of the heavenly gate to behold G_d forever, who is over all, G_d blessed forever. Amen.
OF THE GENEALOGY OF SAINT DAVID
Here begins the genealogy of Saint David, Archbishop of all Britannia by the grace and predestination of G_d. St David was the son of Sant, Sant son of Cheretic, Cheretic son of Cuneda, Cuneda son of Etern, Etern son of Patern, Patern son of Peisrud, Peisrud son of Doeil, Doeil son of Gurdeil, Gurdeil son of Dumn, Dumn son of Guordumn, Guordumn son of Amguoil, Amguoil son of Amguerit, Amguerit son of Omid, Omid son of Perum, Perum son of Dobun, Dobun son of Iouguen, Iouguen son of Abalach, Abalach son of Eugen, Eugen son of Eudolen, Eudolen son of Eugen, Eugen son of Mary's sister.
Here ends the Life of Saint David, Bishop and Confessor
THE MASS OF SAINT DAVID
G_d, who did foretell thy blessed confessor and pontiff, St David, by the announcement of an angel to St Patrick, prophecying thirty years before he was born, we beseech thee that by his intercession, whose memory we celebrate, we may come to the eternal joys, through thy Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one G_d, world without end. Amen.
Almighty G_d, be pleased to regard the sacrifices of praise and the devout prayers, which we offer as Pilgrims & Companions of the Order of St David & St Non. To thee in honour of thy blessed confessor and pontiff, St David; and what our merit may not obtain, may thy mercy and his frequent intercession for us effect, through thy Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one G_d, world without end. Amen.
O Lord, being replenished with the partaking of the Sacrament, we beseech thee that by the merits of Saint David, thy confessor and pontiff, whose glorious festival we do celebrate on 1st March each year and the feast day of his honoured mother our lady St Non (3/5th March) we may be sensible of the patronage of thine ineffable mercy, through thy Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one G_d, world without end. Amen.
St David (Dewi Sant was canonized by Pope Callistus II in the year 1120 AD.
FLAG OF THE ORDER
In 1919 the Church of England lost its Welsh department when the Church was disestablished in Wales and its endowments were cancelled. This followed a long period of agitation, led, among others, by the then Prime Minister, David Lloyd-George fuelled by the fact that only a tiny percentage of the Welsh population were active members of the Anglican Church. The Church was replaced in 1920 by a body called the Church in Wales (not of Wales) with a status of an autonomous province in communion with the Church of England. The Church has its own Archbishop elected from among the six Bishops within Wales, who each keeps his own diocese. The Bishop of St David's is the Patron of the Order of St David & St Non.
At a meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in 1939 it was suggested that a flag should be made by reversing the colours of the armorial banner of the see of St David. The armorial banner of the arms of St David's which would be a black flag with a yellow cross bearing five black cinquefoils. The reverse of this would of course be a yellow flag with a black cross and yellow cinquefoils. Why it was felt that the colours should be reversed was not explained.
It was later suggested that the cinquefoils should be omitted, to create a flag to be known as the Cross of St David. The below flag (Cross of St David) has been adopted as the flag of the Order of St David and St Non. A Black background with yellow cross.