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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

St. David of Wales: A Patron Saint of Animals and Nature. By Dr. Chapman Chen  

St. David (Welsh: Dewi Sant; Latin: Davidus; c. 500 – c. 589), the patron saint of Wales, was a 6th-century bishop renowned for his compassionate treatment of animals and his deep connection to nature. Born around 500 AD near St. Bride's Bay, Pembrokeshire, David's life is shrouded in legend, but his legacy as a spiritual leader and protector of all sentient creatures of God endures.


St. David founded a monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (St. David's) in Pembrokeshire, where he and his monks led a life of strict discipline and prayer. They adhered to a diet that excluded flesh and alcohol, reflecting their respect for animal life. The saint’s favourite food was leek. On his feast day, March 1st, which is celebrated across Wales, the leek—a symbol of his austere diet— is worn as a badge of honor and respect for his virtues.


David's community practiced manual labor, plowing their fields by hand rather than using animals, embodying the principle that "every man his own ox" as they worked and prayed.


"David would not allow them to make animals work for them, but made them pull the plough themselves, saying, 'every man his own ox.'  And while they worked, they continued to pray." (Rhygyfarch 1090)


The saint's teachings emphasized humility, kindness, and a harmonious existence with the natural world. St. David is often depicted with a white dove on his shoulder because of a miracle associated with him. The most famous miracle occurred while he was preaching to a crowd at the Synod of Brefi. Those at the back could not see him, so the ground beneath his feet rose to create a hill, and a white dove landed on his shoulder (Rhygyfarch 11st c.). This event became emblematic of St. David and symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit, marking him as a chosen vessel of divine inspiration.


St. David's Cathedral, which commemorates St. David of Wales, is located in the city of St. David's in Pembrokeshire, near the most westerly point of Wales. It is a revered site and a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning architecture and historical significance. The cathedral is situated in a valley and is part of a beautiful and tranquil setting that attracts visitors from around the world. 




Rhygyfarch. Vita Davidis. Circa 1090. Translated by J. Wyn Evans and Jonathan M. Wooding, University of Wales Press, 2007.


Rhygyfarch. Buchedd Dewi (The Life of David). Circa 11th century. Translated by John Davies, The National Library of Wales. 


"Five Facts about St David | Welsh Age of Saints | Visit Wales." VisitWales .com, 4.


"Saint David." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2.



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