Forty days before the Triduum, the Lenten season disposes Catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery through prayer and penitential practices.
David, Bishop, c. 520-589
David was born around the year 520. He was educated in a monastery in Cardigan where he was an exceptional student. His fellow students told of seeing a “dove with a golden beak playing at his lips and teaching him to sing the praise of God.” After ordination as a priest, David retired to an island to study under the Welsh saint Paulinus for several years.
When he emerged from his studies, David became very active. He is said to have founded twelve monasteries, the last of which, Mynyw (later called Menevia and now St. David’s) in the far southwest corner of Wales, became his home for most of the remainder of his life. The discipline of his community was extremely severe. Hard manual labor and bare subsistence were the norm. The monks drank only water (which earned for St. David the surname, “The Waterman”). Silence was the rule unless absolutely necessary to speak and prayer was constant, even when laboring.
Sometime during the mid-500s, a synod was called in Cardigan to suppress the Pelagian heresy, which was re-emerging in Britain at that time. (This heresy denied the concept of Original Sin.) David was invited to attend, but declined until St. Deiniol and St. Dubricius arrived at the monastery and persuaded him to go. At the synod, David’s eloquence and grace so overwhelmed the attendees that he was unanimously elected bishop of Cambria, replacing St. Dubricius who resigned in his favor. David accepted only on the condition that the episcopal seat be relocated to Mynyw. As bishop, David later convened another council that ratified the decrees of the earlier assembly and drew up the regulations which became the governing documents for the Church in Wales.
Little else is known of St. David, but he is said to have died in his monastery in Mynyw sometime around the year 589. Another Welsh saint, St. Kentigern, saw his soul being carried to heaven by angels.
St. David is depicted in art standing on a mound with a snow-white dove on his shoulder. This derives from the legend that when David was speaking at the first synod in Cardigan, a dove came to rest on his shoulder. At the same time, the land on which he was standing rose up so that, towering above the assembly, all present could clearly hear his words. St. David, the patron of Wales, and is honored in that country on March 1.
David's message today: While little is known for certain about St. David’s life, we can assume that he lived a life devoted wholly to God and, when he was selected as bishop, accepted this as God’s will. It isn’t always easy to accept God’s will in our lives, but with prayer we can accomplish anything.