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St. David's Day Chapel

This morning, I gave Chapel in recognition of our school's observance of St. David's Day.  The text of the Chapel follows:

"Do the little things you have seen and heard me do."

Although the patron saint of Wales whose day we celebrate today is not the patron of our school, we non-the-less, because of long tradition, celebrate his feast day every March 1st.

Saint David, or Dewi Sant, as he is known in Welsh, was a very gentle person who lived a frugal life. It is said that he ate mostly bread and herbs and to have drank nothing but water. David was a Celtic monk and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. During his long life—it is said he lived to 100—he was the archbishop of Wales, helped the poor, established several monasteries, and spread Christianity throughout western Britain.

The most well known of the monasteries founded by St. David was at Rose Vale on the banks of a small river where the city of St. David stands today. There are many stories regarding David’s life.  Perhaps the most well known is said to have taken place when the church was deciding whether David was to be named an Archbishop.  A great crowd had gathered, and when David stood up to speak, one of the people gathered shouted: “We won't be able to see or hear him” and at that instant, the ground rose ‘till everyone could see and hear David.  It is also said that at this time a dove landed on his shoulder.  Saint David is often depicted on a small hill with a dove above him.
There’s a great scene in Kenneth Branagh’s film Henry V, based on Shakespeare's Henry V, Act 4, Scene 7 where Henry, played by Branagh, is on the field of Agincourt in 1415, surrounded by death.  The English, he has just learnt have won against the larger French army; but the mood is somber for there is “not a boy left alive.”  It is at this time that a Welshman, Fluellen, played by Ian Holm comes up to the king and starts talking about leeks. 'I do believe your Majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Davy’s day.’ Henry laughs through his tears. 

“I wear it for a memorable honor. For I am Welsh, you know.”

The honor Henry speaks of in this scene is the second of the most well known of the stories of St. David.  Back in the 6th century, according to legend, St. David ordered his Welsh soldiers to wear leeks in their helmets while fighting against the Saxons, so that friend could be identified from foe.  It is believed by the Welsh that this wearing of the leek won them victory. To this day, the Royal Welch Fusiliers uphold the tradition of eating raw leeks on March 1st.   Placing a leg upon a crate, the youngest member/s of the regiment are asked to eat an entire raw leek while a goat is paraded around the barracks.  The whole affair is ended with a toast of champagne.  Now, I have heard that this tradition lives in places other than Wales … maybe even here in New York City!

It is claimed that St. David lived for over 100 years.  He died in 589 AD.  His last words to his followers were in a sermon on the previous Sunday: “Be joyful,” he said, “and keep your faith and your creed ... Do the little things that you have seen me do. 

Do the little things and be joyful—two actions consistent with the mission of our school today. 

Happy St. David’s Day!

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