Feast of Dafydd

For the twelfth consecutive year, I have failed to find Saint David of Wales in my Roman Catholic breviary. In my previous, Anglican experiences of March 1st, it was no trouble at all. The erstwhile Bishop of Menevia (died no later than 601 AD) was ever at the top of the Kalendar for March, and thus the Welsh saint’s Legend ever before me when, on this date, I wanted a name-day to elude the rigours of Lent. Happily it is Sunday today, anyway.

As I have already confided to gentle reader, in some previous Idlepost, I was not named after David of Wales (or, Dafydd, if one wants to get Welsh about it). Born rather on the day Catherine of Siena died (though 673 years later), I was not named for her, either; nor for the Psalmist as might be supposed; but instead for King David of Scotland, then dead for a nice round eight hundred years. Not a Saint, but hey, my family weren’t Catholic.

The Patron of Wales was (Catholic), however, and as we learn from the chronicler Giraldus, one of the best, performing for that principality — once rather larger than it is now — much the same services as did Saint Patrick for Ireland. In 1398, Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury ordered the Feast of David kept throughout his province of the Church, which I suppose will have to do; daresay I’d have heard “Dewi Sant” acknowledged, had I awakened this morning in Cardiff.

Or, “Dewi Ddyrwr,” as he is also known, from the tradition that he was “a drinker of water,” which I have always found an insipid beverage. By this account he was also a vegetarian. That he completed this trifecta by being rather short, is indicated by one of his miracles. Addressing a synod at what came to be known as Llanddewibrefi (never try to pronounce Welsh names, you might hurt yourself), he found himself neither seen nor heard. A dove then alighted on his shoulder, and the ground heaved, lifting him into view.

The banner of Saint David is a yellow cross, on a field of black; or, vice versa. This has the advantage over the more common Red Dragon of Cadwaladr (passant, on a field of green and white) that it is not a Tudor standard. When Wales becomes independent again, as it surely will the way things are going, I do hope the Cross will be retrieved.