Dewi Sant (St. David)

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The flag of St. David

David died on 1st march around the year 589.  He was a significant church leader amongst the Welsh Christians at a time when the British churches were not subservient to Roman Catholicism.

David’s main influence amongst the Welsh churches was his opposition to the doctrines of another British-born church leader, Pelagius.  The main thrust of Pelagius’s doctrine (aka Pelagianism) opposed the idea of inherited sin (Original sin), predestination (as taught by Augustine) and asserted a strong version of the doctrine of free will.

 Pelagius asserted that Augustine’s doctrine of Predestination, that men are predestined to salvation and, will be saved regardless of how they live their lives.  Pelagius saw this, as the main reason for the moral laxity in Rome—were he lived.  He also viewed it as making people into automatons thus excusing them from any ability to choose to do good or evil, which he believed was contrary to what he believed was man’s inherent Free Will.  Pelagius argued his case for morality, stressing his views of natural sanctity and man’s moral capacity to choose to live a holy life.  1

As with other religious leaders of this period David established communities where men who felt called to a “religious” life would live and be trained.  David’s ideaof the religious life was noted for his extreme view of poverty and physical toil, as well as devotion to prayer. 

The 11th century Welsh Bishop, Rhigyfarch, wrote in his biography of David:

“Such an austerity did the holy father decree in his zeal for the monastic system, that every monk toiled at daily labour, and spent his life working with his hands for the community. “For who does not work,’ says the apostle, ‘let him not eat’. Knowing that carefree rest was the source and mother of vices he bowed down the shoulders of the monks with pious labour, for those who bow heads and minds in leisurely repose develop a spirit of instability and apathy with restless promptings to lust.

“Thus they work with feet and hands with more eager fervour. They place the yoke upon their shoulders; they dig the ground unweariedly with mattocks and spades; they carry in their holy hands hoes and saws for cutting, and provide with their own efforts for all the necessities of the community. Possessions they scorn, the gifts of the wicked they reject, and riches they abhor. There is no bringing in of oxen to have the ploughing done, rather is every one both riches and ox unto himself and the brethren. The work completed, no complaint was heard: no conversation was held beyond that which was necessary, but each performed the task enjoined with prayer and appropriate meditation.  2

 

Another account of the harsh regime to which David’s monks were subjected states:

 

When not in the fields, they prayed, studied, and wrote. They ate bread, vegetables, and salt and drank only water and a little milk. Following the evening meal, the only one of the day, they prayed for three hours before going to bed, then awoke at dawn. Because he didn’t allow the consumption of wine or other spirits, Saint David is nicknamed “The Waterman.” 3


As with St. Patrick, St. David has been adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as one of it’s own, elevating David to “Sainthood” in the 12th Century.


Sources:

 

1  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagius

 

2  http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/363/st.-david-wales,-celtic-churches-eastern-orthodoxy/


3  http://www.answers.com/topic/saint-david#ixzz2udRsKRh9

 

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