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Celtic and Old English Saints 1 March
* St. David of Wales
* St. Marnock of Annandale
* St. Monan of St. Andrew's
* St. Aubin of Angers
St. David (Dewi Sant) of Wales, Bishop
5th or 6th century. There is no certainty about the date though we know
that St. David was a real personage, son of King Sant, a prince of
Cardigan in far western Wales. All the information we have about him is
based on the 11th century biography written by Rhygyfarch, the son of
Bishop Sulien of St. David's. Rhygyfarch's main purpose was to uphold
the claim of the Welsh bishopric to be independent of Canterbury, so
little reliance can be placed on the document.
David, who may have been born at Henfynw in Cardigan, lived during the
golden age of Celtic Christianity when saints were plentiful, many of
them of noble rank--kings, princes, and chieftain--who lived the
monastic life, built oratories and churches, and preached the Gospel.
Saint Cadoc founded the great monastery of Llancarfan. Saint Illtyd
turned from the life of a soldier to that of a mystic and established
the abbey of Llantwit, where tradition links his name to that of Sir
Galahad. But greatest among them was David, cousin of Cadoc and pupil of
Illtyd, who was educated in the White House of Carmarathen and who
founded the monastery of Menevia in the place that now bears his name.
According to his biography, David became a priest, studied under Saint
Paulinus, the disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre, on an unidentified
island for several years. He then engaged in missionary activities,
founded 12 monasteries from Croyland to Pembrokeshire, the last of
which, at Mynyw (Menevia) in southwestern Wales, was known for the
extreme asceticism of its rule, which was based on that of the Egyptian
Here in this lovely and lonely outpost he gathered his followers. The
Rule was strict, with but one daily meal, frequent fasts, and hours of
unbroken silence. Their days were filled with hard manual labour and no
plough was permitted in the work of the fields. "Every man his own ox,"
said St. David. Nor did David exempt himself from the same rigorous
discipline: he drank nothing but water and so came to be known as David
the Waterman; and long after vespers, when the last of his monks had
retired to bed, he prayed on alone through the night.
We are told that he was of a loveable and happy disposition, and an
attractive and persuasive preacher. It was perhaps his mother, the
saintly Non, who had nurtured him carefully in the Christian faith, that
he owed so many of his own fine qualities. It was not surprising,
therefore, that when the time came for the appointment of a new
archbishop of Wales the choice fell upon him.
At Brevi, in Cardiganshire, a great synod had been convened about 550,
attended by a thousand members, but David, who kept aloof from temporal
concerns, remained in his retreat at Menevia. The synod, however,
insisted on sending for him. So great was the crowd and so intense the
excitement that the voice of the aged and retiring archbishop Saint
Dubricius could hardly be heard when he named David as his successor.
David, who at first refused, came forward reluctantly, but when he spoke
his voice was like a silver trumpet, and all could hear and were deeply
moved; and in that hour of his succession a white dove was seen to
settle upon his shoulders as if it were a sign of God's grace and
It is said that David was consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of
Jerusalem and given an altar stone by him while on pilgrimage to the
Holy Land. But he loved Menevia and could not bring himself to leave it
for Caerleon, the seat of the archbishopric, which he transferred to his
own monastery by the wild headlands of the western sea, and which to
this day is known by his name and remains a place of pilgrimage.
Again, although evidence is unreliable, David convened a council, called
the Synod of Victory, because it marked the final demise of Pelagianism,
ratified the edicts of Brevi, and drew up regulations for the British
Giraldus tells us that in his time congregations and monasteries grew
all over Wales and "to these Father David, as if placed upon a lofty
eminence was a mirror and pattern of life".
"He opened," we are told, "many fountains in dry places, and across the
centuries his words spoken in the hour of death still reach us:
"Brothers and sisters, be joyful and keep your faith and do ther little
On the last Sunday before his death after he had received the Holy
Sacrament he gave the people his blessing bidding them to be joyful and
to keep the Faith for they would see him no more in this world. He died
on the Tuesday 1st March and the monks cried out with anguish "Who will
hlep us? Who will pray for us? Who will be a father to us as David was?"
St.David was buried in his cathedral and his tomb became, and still is,
a great place of pilgrimage. even the Norman Kings William the Conqueror
and Henry II visiting it to pay homage. Bishop Richard Carew rebuilt the
Cathedral Church largely from offerings at the Shrine and the relics
were translated to their present position to the north side of the
presbytery in 1275.
His birth and death dates are uncertain, ranging from c. 454 to 520 for
the former and from 560 to 601 for the latter (Attwater, Benedictines,
Delaney, Gill, Wade- Evans).
In art, St. David is a Celtic bishop with long hair and a beard, and a
dove perched on his shoulder. He may be shown preaching on a hill, or
holding his cathedral. He is the patron saint of Wales and especially
venerated in Pembrokeshire (Roeder). No one seems to have a satisfactory
explanation regarding the association of leeks with St. David's Day as
in Shakespeare's Henry V, IV, 1 (Attwater).
But..... The leek, and later the daffodil was chosen as the Welsh emblem
because of the colour of the leaves, green above ground and white below,
corresponding to the colours of the national standard with its red
dragon. It is believed that St. David advised King Cadwallader to
distinguish his warriors from the heathen Saxon in battle with the leek
and it would have had the added advantage of making them recognisable in
the dark by the aroma of their insignia!
St. David's Cathedral lies in a hollow in the rugged Goewer peninsular
called in Welsh Mynyw, transliterated into Latin as Menevia, the most
western tip of Britain. The place is pure enchantment, the uneven floor
of the great church seems to move with spiritual power and the little
oaken casket containing the relics of David and Justinian, his confessor
and "soul friend", would move the most sceptical. Every pilgrim should
walk the mile or so up the narrow country lane to St. Non's Well and
chapel, overlooking the rocky coastline with its small islands, for this
is reputed to be the birthplace of Dewi Sant or St. David.
Troparion (Tone 1)
Having worked miracles in thy youth, founded monasteries and converted
the pagans who had sought to destroy thee, O Father David, Christ our
God blessed thee to receive the episcopate at the place of His
Resurrection. Intercede for us, that our lives may be blessed and our
souls may be saved.
Kontakion (Tone 6)
The living waters of godly discipline encompassed thee and the saving
waters of faith flowed through thy teaching, O Hierarch and Waterman
David. Symbolising the baptism of Wales in thy life, thou art worthy of
all praise, wherefore we keep festival in thy honour, glorifying thine
Icons of Saint David of Wales:
St. David's Cathedral and Shrine:
The Shrine of Saint David and Saint Justinian
The modern reliquary is behind the seats of those attending services in a
pretty chapel dedicated to The Trinity.
St. Marnock of Annandale, Bishop
(Marnanus, Marnan, Marnoc)
Died c. 625. An Irish monk under St. Columba (f.d. June 9) at Iona, and
afterwards a missionary bishop, who died at Annandale, and was much
venerated in the neighbourhood of the Scottish border. He has given his
name to Kilmarnock in Scotland. He has a second feast day on October 25
St. Monan of St. Andrew's, Martyr
Died 874. Scottish monk trained under St. Adrian of St. Andrew's, St.
Monan was a missionary in the country around the Firth of Forth. He and
a large number of other Christians were killed together by the Danes
St. Albinus (Aubin) of Angers, Bishop
Born in Vannes, Brittany, France; died c. 554. Here is another saint of
whose childhood we know next to nothing, except that he was of Irish and
English descent and lived in Brittany. He comes out of the unknown and
enters, as it were, another unknown--for after renouncing the fortune of
his father, he enters the cloistered life, giving himself to prayer and
silence and solitude.
At the age of 35, he was abbot of Tincillac Monastery near Angers. The
stories that come down to us show one thing quite clearly: He is a man
who detests anything that is adulterated, whether it be the Rule of St.
Benedict, the sacraments of the Christian faith, or the human body. We
might say of him that his mouth never lost its taste for spring water.
In 529 the people of Angers succeeded in having Albinus chosen as their
bishop, not so much because they respected his concern for their faith
but because they knew his upright character would protect them well
against the civil and military authorities. These people knew how to
pick someone to protect their interests.
Albinus soon came into conflict with Childebert, the son of Clovis. A
certain noble lady named Etheria, unable to pay her debts, was thrown
into prison, and called for her bishop to visit her. Bishops like
Albinus have the sacraments in their blood, in their muscles, in their
hands, in their mouths, in their very gestures; so that when Etheria and
Albinus were attacked by one of the guards, Albinus simply blew a puff
of breath upon the guard who (tradition says) died upon the spot.
If the story is true, or even if it were untrue but believed in locally,
it is not hard to understand how the authority and fear of Albinus
spread rapidly throughout the territory, or to explain why the creditors
cancelled the debts of all prisoners at the simple suggestion of the new
Albinus's next project was to release all the prisoners from another
jail at Angers, not that he failed to recognise the inmates were
criminals rather than gentle lambs, but because he lost faith in the
prison system, at least the one in his see.
He went to the judge and requested amnesty; but when he was refused, he
convoked a huge gathering of his flock about the prison, led everyone in
prayer until a huge stone was released, which plunged through the walls
of the jail. Out came the prisoners, like water through a spout, to be
led to the bishop's church where they were busy with prayers and
promises of amendment through the night.
No biographer has ever suggested that these prisoners to a man were
converted into saints, but the bishop no doubt believed their release
was considerably better than the brutality of prison life in those days.
Albinus convoked local councils, reformed his church, fought abuses in
civil and ecclesiastical marriage laws, and opposed errors of faith. He
took a prominent role in the third council of Orleans in 538. His
popularity is beyond dispute as is shown by the very number of towns
named for him. Legend reports that whole villages were converted and
baptized together as a result of his preaching.
Albinus did not die a martyr, rather his body simply wore out. The
abbey of Saint-Aubin in Angers was erected in his memory. Saint-Aubin
de Moeslain (Haute Marne) is even today a popular place of pilgrimage
In art, St. Albinus is portrayed as a blind bishop. He is venerated at
Angers, Brittany, Haute Marne, and is invoked for children in danger of
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.
Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, March. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.
Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and their Attributes, Chicago: Henry
Wade-Evans, A. W. (1923). Life of St. David.
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