Patron saint of Wales

Who was St David?

David or Dewi was born in the year 500, the son of St Non and a prince of Ceredigion.

Legend states that Non gave birth to him on a clifftop during a violent storm. The spot is marked by the ruins of Non’s Chapel, and a nearby holy well is said to have healing powers.

The present cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the inhospitable area known as ‘Glyn Rhosyn.’ David and his followers lived a simple life; they refrained from eating meat or drinking beer. David’s symbol, now a national symbol of Wales, is the leek.

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St Non's chapel

David rose to become a bishop in the church and made several pilgrimages including one to Jerusalem during which, tradition states, he brought back with him a stone which now sits in an altar in the south transept of the cathedral.

The best-known miracle associated with David is said to have taken place when he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd at the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi. When those at the back complained that they could not hear him, the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill so that everyone had a good view. A white dove settled on his shoulder, a sign of God’s grace and blessing.

St David's Cathedral

David died on March 1st in the year 589 and the monastery is said to have been ‘filled with angels as Christ received his soul’. His final words to his followers were:

“Be joyful, keep the Faith, do the little things that you have seen me do”

From the 12th century onwards, Dewi’s fame spread throughout South Wales and as far as Ireland and Brittany. St Davids Cathedral became a popular centre of pilgrimage, particularly after Dewi was officially canonised by Pope Callixtus in 1120.

March 1st or St David’s Day has been celebrated ever since.

Further reading: Discover more about St David and the fascinating history of St Davids Cathedral here.

The shrine to St David in the cathedral