Dale Fort Blog Number 13

10 12 2012

Nadolig Llawen Darllenwyr y Blog

DF at christmas

Happy Christmas Blog Readers

As promised in Blog 12, here is the story of St David.

St David (Dewi Sant)

Born 495, died 589

He was known as “The Waterman” because he only drank water, his followers were sometimes called the Watermen.  Merlin (from Carmarthen (Caerfryddyn)) is supposed to have prophesised his birth.

David’s mum was St Non, a pagan princess who had been raped by Prince Sant.  She was disowned by her family and her father was going to kill the baby.  However as Non’s contractions began a great storm blew up and this prevented him from finding her.  The spot is on the cliffs and a healing spring spouted up.  There is a shrine to the Blessed Virgin and a nunnery and chapel there now.  The water is supposed to be good for eye problems, try it at your own risk.

David was baptised at Porth Clais by St Elvis  who had arrived opportunely from Ireland. Non and David left Wales for Brittany, she died there, he returned.  David was trained for the priesthood at various Christian Colleges.  He became a Bishop but maintained a simple lifestyle.  He dressed in animal skins (like Elvis) and carried a branch with a magical bell hanging from it.  He also owned a magic horse which was ridden across the Irish Sea.  David travelled all over Britain and to Brittany and the Holy Land.  Between 530 and 540 he and his mates St Ishmael, St Teilo and St Aiden established his monastic settlement at present day St Davids.  As soon as he arrived he lit a fire.  This meant he was declaring ownership of the site and was most annoying to the local pagan chief Boia.  His wife was even more annoyed and made him send a bunch of thugs to duff up David and his chums.  Before they got to the settlement they all became ill and couldn’t go on.  They returned home and found all their cows had died.  Boia decided that negotiations were in order, so he came to an arrangement with David and the cows were miraculously restored.  Boia’s wife was not happy so she decided that she would get rid of the Christians if her husband was too weak to do it.  David’s men were celibate and went down to the river everyday for water.  Mrs. Boia assembled all the attractive girls in the tribe and told them to go down to the river, remove their clothes and frolic about in a suggestive manner.  The aim was to excite the Christians to such a degree that they would break their vows and run away in shame.  It failed because David fasted against them and they all went mad. (A response echoed 14 centuries later by IRA hunger strikers).

She then tried a stronger method.  Taking her step-daughter down to the river she offered to do her hair.  When the girl’s head was in her lap she cut it off and threw it into the river as a sacrifice.  This didn’t work either so Boia’s wife went madder and ran away screaming foul curses.  Boia was now extremely miffed and set about destroying the settlement.  Sadly for him he was murdered by the Irish pirate Lysgi before he could begin.

An important event in David’s life was The Synod of Brefi in 545.  On his way to the meeting David restored to life an apparently dead boy.  The boy converted to Christianity and joined David on his journey.  The purpose of the synod was to put down the Pelagian Heresy (a doctrine which rejected original sin).  David began to speak but could not be heard by the large crowd.  The boy put his shroud down at the feet of David whereupon a huge mound grew up out of the ground under the saint.  He could now be seen and heard by all and with a white dove on his shoulder (representing the Holy Spirit) he spoke against the heresy and convinced them all.  This was when the distinctive Celtic version of Christianity began to tow the line and follow more conventional Roman lines.

David died aged 94 having survived an assassination attempt.  3 monks gave him some poisoned bread.  David broke it into 3 pieces and fed one to his dog which died, one to a raven, which died and then (possibly unwisely) ate the last one, he was unharmed.

One day the monks heard voices and David informed them that an angel had appeared and told him he would die on March 1st.  That morning the monastery was permeated by a sweet smell and the sounds of angelic singing.  Jesus appeared to David and escorted him up to heaven.

Look out for the next blog on a topic yet to be decided….

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