It was a wild and stormy day when Non gave birth to her son on the edge of a Pembrokeshire cliff, but despite the inclement weather, at the height of her labour, she was surrounded by warm and gentle sunshine. When the baptismal waters splashed into the eyes of a blind monk his sight was restored, so it was clear, right from the start, that this was a special child.
David was well educated, travelled widely, over the years was credited with other miracles and whilst in Jerusalem was consecrated a Bishop.
Sometime after this he returned to the place we know as St Davids. He was known as a waterman, drinking only water and standing or submerging himself in the cold sea or river to subdue the flesh. The monks had a harsh existence, and were vegetarian since eating meat was thought to inflame the spirit.
Although we don’t know the exact date of his birth, historians are fairly confident that he died on 1st March 589 and after his death pilgrims began to visit. Despite many attacks by the Vikings who ravaged the site, it has survived to become a popular destination for visitors and pilgrims today.
As a tour guide I am frequently asked to take tourists around the county but my favourite request is a visit to St Davids. There is something lovely about the city and calming about the cathedral, so that I never tire of the trip, no matter how often I go.
Of course the main attraction is the fact that it is the birth place of St David, our Patron saint, and also where he spent the last part of his life, in the monastic community he founded there.
Unfortunately it was the Viking raids that lead to the destruction of the original shrine, stripping it of precious metals and jewels and the loss of the relics. However much later in 1124 when relics were incredibly important to the success of a church Bishop Bernard, without the corporeal remains of David, managed to obtain a favour from Pope Calixtus II that decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids was equal to one to Rome, three pilgrimages was equal to one to Jerusalem! And thus the site became a major place for pilgrimage in the western world.
David’s last gentle words to his followers were “Do the little things that you have heard and seen me do”.