According to legend, St. David came into being when a 6th century Irish missionary nun named Non was raped by a local chieftain in the Welsh fields. In spite of the violence of the act, two white stone were said to appear in the earth, one at Non's head, and the other at her feet, indicating the unalienable worth and future holiness of the child she had just conceived. Nine months later, Non went out to the top of a cliff to deliver her baby.
Unfortunately, another local ruler had been informed by his soothsayers that a nun would bare a child who would one day have power over the entire region. This did not please the chieftain in the least, and he sent out an armed man to slay the infant. When the man arrived at the spot where Non lay in labor, a tremendous storm blew up, and he was forced to run for cover. However, the spot where Non lay remained bathed in sunlight. The stones she grasped in her pain were said to have been imprinted with the marks of her hands and split open.
Non delivered her child successfully and named him David (or Dewi, in Welsh). When he was old enough, she sent him to an island to study with St. Paulinus, where the young David is credited with restoring his teacher's sight. In time, the studious young man became a priest and founded a great monastery at Mynyw in southwestern
Despite his rigorous lifestyle, David was physically fit and proved to be an inspiring preacher. One legend says that he raised the level of a hill in order to be better heard by the crowds who had flocked to hear him preach. Soon after this miracle, David was made an Archbishop. Another legend depicts David on a battlefield, instructing the Christian Celts to put leeks in their bonnets so that they would be identified amidst the hoards of Pagan Saxons they were fighting. From that time to this, the leek has been considered the national symbol of
It is claimed that David lived to be 100 years old. He died surrounded by his followers, who he taught a final lesson before he gave up his spirit: "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." The Feast of St. David, Patron Saint of Wales, is celebrated on March 1st and serves as a day of national pride for the Welsh.
Although it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, it seems likely that Patrick was born of a Roman family somewhere in
Patrick chose to return to land of his captivity in
The most famous incident that has passed into the Patrician Legend occurred on Easter Eve, when Patrick lit a paschal fire on the Hill of Slane, in direct defiance of the orders of the High King who commanded no other fire to be lit until the Druids enkindled one the Hill of Tara for a ceremonial ritual. The pagan priests in the King's court panicked, saying that if the Christian fire was not put out immediately, it would burn forever in the hearts of the Irish people. The King sent his men to arrest Patrick and his companions, but when the guards arrived at Slane, they miraculously saw nothing but a herd of grazing deer. Ironically, the High King's son would later convert to Christianity and serve as Patrick's protector during his journeys through
Other famous legends about Patrick include that he taught the Celts the concept of the Trinity by using a three-leaved-clover, a plant traditionally used in Druidic ceremonies. Whether or not this is accurate, it is true that Patrick was adept at using Druid symbolism to help his listeners understand Christian concepts. Also, he has been credited in folklore with driving the snakes from the Emerald Isle. Although this is clearly a fictional embellishment (
Patrick established the Seat of Armagh as the center of Christianity in
One interesting legend involving
Several years prior to his death, Patrick wrote his famous spiritual biography, now known as The Confession of St. Patrick. In it, he attributed all his successes to God: “It was not by my grace, but God who put this earnest care into my heart….” He died in 493, and it was said that for 12 days and nights during the mourning period, the sun refused to set. There are many places throughout
Christ beside me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ within me
Christ under me, Christ over me
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me
Christ in lying down, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up
Christ in the heart of every person who may think of me
Christ in the mouth of every person who may speak of me
Christ in every eye that may look on me
Christ in every ear that may hear me
|St. David of Wales|
|St. Patrick of Ireland|