St David's Day

Detail from a stained glass window in St Mary's Swanage.

A few days ago Helen and I received a postcard from Ashprington in Devon.  In fact it is a picture of the parish church which is dedicated to Saint David.  Very helpfully, the blurb on the back gives the information: “The 13th century church is one of only three churches in England dedicated to St David.”  This fact was entirely unknown to me, not that I would have necessarily ever had thought about it.


In our own team of churches, St Mary’s has a stained-glass window featuring St David, which thinking about it, on the basis of the information on my postcard, is likely to be a considerable rarity in Dorset and probably in other counties of England.  But in Wales, of course, it is a different matter.  The Visit Wales website says:


“St David died on 1 March – St David’s Day - in 589. He was buried at the site of St Davids Cathedral, where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. His last words to his followers came from a sermon he gave on the previous Sunday: ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.’ The phrase ‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’ - ‘Do the little things in life’ - is still a well-known maxim in Wales.” 


From this I learnt a second fact about things connected with St David: this maxim, “Do the little things in life”.  I am thinking that such advice is good to hear, and much in tune with the spirituality of the Celtic saints, whose heads were not turned by needing to leave their mark or achieve some great thing - just the very opposite - they sought through love and service to live simply and walk humbly with Christ. 


John Mann