Who is Saint David?
Little is known of David, the earliest substantial document about his life being dated late in the 11th Century and authored by the writer Ryghfarch. This is over 400 years after David died and some of the author’s claims have been questioned by modern historians.
David is believed to have been born around the year 500 and is thought to have died on St David’s Day 589. It is said that his mother, Non, gave birth to David on a clifftop in the middle of a storm. The site is marked by the Chapel of St Non. David was educated at what is usually taken to be Whitland in Carmarthenshire under Saint Paulinus of Wales and was baptised by St. Ailbe.
David became a teacher and a preacher and is credited with founding monasteries and churches in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. David travelled to Glastonbury to re-dedicate the abbey. While there however he had a vision of Jesus who told him that He had already dedicated the abbey in the name of His mother Mary, and it would be unseemly for it to be rededicated by human hands.
David chose to build an extension to the abbey into which was placed a travelling altar containing a large red sapphire. A document drawn up during the reign of Henry VIII indicates that the altar was taken when Henry dissolved the monasteries and unverifiable opinion says that the sapphire is now part of the royal crown jewels. St David was purportedly taught the Psalter by a golden beaked pigeon; the bird being represented on the front cover inside the church.
Why St David?
The church was named after David following a suggestion by Bishop Michael Parker that a Celtic saint might be appropriate.