Celebrating St David
A special national service of celebration was held on July 25th to mark the 900th anniversary of St Davids' recognition as a pilgrimage destination.
It was in 1123 that the then Pope, Calixtus II, decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids were the equivalent of one to Rome. This gave this remote spot on the fringe of northern Europe an international status as a place of spiritual significance and cemented its founder - Dewi Sant -as an internationally recognised figure.
The bilingual service, led by the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, is part of a year-long series of events to mark the anniversary. It took place on the Feast of St James, the patron saint of pilgrims and was attended by all the Church in Wales bishops, as well as representatives of other churches, faiths and organisations across Wales.
It was also a highlight of the St Davids Diocesan Year of Pilgrimage - timed to coincide with the anniversary - that has seen a series of pilgrimage-related events across the diocese.
“Today in this special anniversary service we gave thanks for a man who continues to inspire pilgrims after 900 years of international recognition.," the Dean of St Davids, Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, said.
"His teaching –‘Byddwch lawen, cadwch y ffydd, a gwnewch y pethau bychain – be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’ - remains a powerful moral compass for people of all faiths and none, particularly as we seek our way through life’s uncertain times.
“Pilgrimage - journeying with spiritual intent to a sacred space - has surged in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Outer journeying stimulates inner journeying of the spirit, and can help mental and physical health too.
“People coming to St Davids so often find themselves profoundly touched by being in this sacred space. In medieval times the Shrine offered pilgrims a particular focus, and today we point out that the Shrine, like Saint David himself, should be seen less as the destination, but rather as a signpost encouraging us closer to Dewi’s God and ours.”