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Hallo again to all.

Though a Sunday in the middle of Lent, we had the pleasure of attending an evensong this afternoon in a belated celebration of Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant, St David's day, at a parish celebrating not only patronal feast, but also a significant anniversary in this congregation's life. The parish, though not located in Wales, was so named in part because of the multiple Welsh founding members of the congregation, as well of a dearth of parishes by that name in the diocese in which it is located. Following the evensong (which included several Welsh tunes and the late attendance of a beloved retired bishop), was a lovely tea, complete with bakes, biscuits, and rarebit. Tables were bedecked with daffodils and several attendees were seen wearing leeks.

David was born around the year 500 in Menevia. Little is known of his early life, but, while still fairly young, he founded a monastery near Menevia and became its abbot. He is said to have been strict in governing of his own monastery, yet loving in his treatment and correction of wrongdoers. He required monks to pull ploughs themselves rather than relying on animal labor, and to spend every evening in spiritual reading and writing. No personal possessions were permitted, and to even say "my book" or "my robe" were offenses, since monks had only the use of those things, not the possession of them. One of his nicknames, "the Waterman," may indicate that he allowed the monks in his care to drink only water at meals instead of the customary wine or mead.

David's strongest desire was to study and meditate in the quiet of his monastery, but he was virtually dragged to an assembly of bishops called to combat the heresy of Pelagianism. Once there, David proved to be so eloquent and learned that Archbishop Dubricius chose him as his own successor as Primate of Wales. In time, David founded eleven other monasteries in Wales and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

A scholar, a competent administrator, and a man of moderation, David filled the offices he held with distinction. He became a leader and guardian of the Christian faith in Wales. Eventually, he moved the center of episcopal government to Menevia, which is still an episcopal city, now called Ty-Dewi (House of David)*.

Though nowhere a national holiday†, festivals in honour of St David continue throughout the world, with elaborate ceremonies, parades, the eating of traditional Welsh foods, and even fireworks, especially in Wales where it is a national festival.

To this day, St David's Cathedral, St Davids, Pembrokeshire in Wales sits upon the spot where David founded an early monastery—a church having sat on that site continuous since the time of David.

Outside of Wales, St David is a somewhat common, though not ubiquitous name for Anglican churches. It comes nowhere near the popularity of Christ Church, Trinity or All Saints, nor that of saints Paul, Mary or John, but also occupies more space than Anglican churches named for saints Jude, Theodore, or Asaph. Church dedications, whether they be for biblical saints, historical saints, aspects of God, or events, help form the direction, culture, and often even the mission of a congregation. From a St Andrew's parish in the United States proudly flying The Saltire and holding charity golf tournaments, to St Mary Magdalene hosting programmes for former prostitutes, to St Luke organizing medical clinics abroad, mission and festival may be a gift from founding members—whether as distantly as the 6th century or as recently as 1968.


See you next week.

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4 March 2018

* Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The Episcopal Church, USA. Report: Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018: Conforming to General Convention 2018., 159.
† There have been several attempts to make St David's day, March 1, a bank holiday in Wales, without success.

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