1st March 2021

Today, March 1st, is St David’s Day, celebrated, especially by the people of Wales, as he is the patron saint of the principality. I was born in its capital, Cardiff, spent my formative years there and have fond recollections of the way my school celebrated the day. We held an eisteddfod with the different houses competing against each other in music, poetry, drama, art, written subjects and collections. The winning house won the cup and we finished with a free half day.

Looking back, I wonder how many of us knew much about the saint in whose honour the day took place. In fact, there is not a lot to know other that he lived in the sixth century, and came from Pembrokeshire. He was a man of great piety and led a very frugal life drinking only water and eating only vegetables. He developed a reputation as a great preacher and founded monasteries in Wales, South West England and Brittany. Those who became monks were expected to share in the same austerity as David. When labouring in the fields was finished, they were expected to return to the monastery and spend the rest of the day reading, writing or praying. When evening came, they were to go in silence to the chapel and humble themselves on bended knees until the stars in the heavens brought the day to a close.

That may be a bit too much for us in our sophisticated twenty first century but perhaps we can learn something from the simplicity of the so called ‘dark ages’ and take to heart these parting words of David on his death bed: “My brothers and sisters, be joyful, keep your faith and belief, and perform the small things which you have learned from me and have seen in me.” Now there’s a thought for lock down.

Peter Webb