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David, St

DAVID, ST (Dewi, Sant), the national and tutelar saint of Wales, whose annual festival, known as " St David's Day," falls on the 1st of March. Few historical facts are known regarding the saint's life and actions, and the dates both of his birth and death are purely conjectural, although there is reason to suppose he was born about the year 500 and died at a great age towards the close of the 6th century. According to his various biographers he was the son of Sandde, a prince of the line of Cunedda, his mother being Non, who ranks as a Cymric saint. He seems to have taken a prominent part in the celebrated synod of Llanddewi-Brefi (see CARDIGANSHIRE), and to have presided at the so-called " Synod of Victory," held some years later at Caerleon-on-Usk. At some date unknown, St David, as penescoli or primate of South Wales, moved the seat of ecclesiastical government from Caerleon to the remote headland of Mynyw, or Menevia, which has ever since, under the name of St David's (Ty-Dewi), remained the cathedral city of the western see. St David founded numerous churches throughout all parts of South Wales, of which fifty-three still recall his name, but apparently he never penetrated farther north than the region of Powys, although he seems to have visited Cornwall. With the passing of time the saint's fame increased, and his shrine at St David's became a notable place of pilgrimage, so that by the time of the Norman conquest his importance and sanctity were fully recognized, and at Henry I.'s request he was formally canonized by Pope Calixtus II. about 1120.

Of the many biographies of St David, the earliest known is that of Rhyddmarch, or Ricemarchus (c. 1090), one of the last British bishops of St David's, from whose work Giraldus Cambrensis (q.v.) chiefly compiled his extravagant life of the saint.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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