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Saint David

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This profile of Saint David is part of
Who's Who in Medieval History

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Saint David was also known as:

Dewi Sant (in Welsh)

Saint David was known for:

Being the patron saint of Wales.

Occupations:

Places of Residence and Influence:

Important Dates:

About Saint David:

Although a great deal of legend and allegory have arisen about Saint David, very little is known about the actual historical figure. Scholars believe he was born sometime around 520 C.E., probably near St. Bride’s Bay in Pembrokeshire. According to Rhygyfarch, the Welsh hagiographer who wrote the earliest known biography of David in c. 1090, the saint was a product of rape by the chieftan, Sant, upon David's mother St. Non.

Saint David may have been educated at Henfynyw, Cardigan. He almost certainly participated in the synod of Llanddewi-Brefi, the main purpose of which was to deal with the Pelagian Heresy. In 569 he presided over another synod known as the Synod of Victory, which was held at Caerleon-on-Usk, Monmouthshire, and which was so named because it supposedly vanquished the heresy in Britain.

Scholars are fairly certain that David was responsible for moving the seat of ecclesiastical government to Mynyw (a.k.a. Menevia and Menapia) from Caerleon. Mynyw is now known as St. David's. David founded many churches in South Wales; today there are more than 50 churches in the region named for him.

A 10th-century manuscript of the Annales Cambriae is the earliest known written record to mention Saint David. The chronicle records the year of his death as 601, and he is believed to have died on March 1. Although he is generally thought to have been canonized by Pope Callixtus II in 1120, this has yet to be confirmed.

Tradition has it that during a battle against the Saxons, David advised the Welsh fighters to each wear a leek in his hat so that the warriors might distinguish themselves from their foes. Ever since, Welsh wear leeks every March 1 in memory of David.

More Saint David Resources:

Saint David on the Web

St. David
Balanced assessment by Leslie Toke at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

St. David
Concise bio at NNDB.

Medieval Wales
Hagiography



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