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He was desirous of restoring religion in the island, as paganism was again raising its head, and there was a slackening of the Faith. He invited Gildas, David, and Cadoc to come to him and revive the flagging Christianity of the people. Gildas certainly went in response, but whether David did more than send a form of the Mass and some of his best pupils to engage in the work, we are unable to say, The Church of Naas, in Kildare, however, regards him as its patron, and presumably its founder. Near it are the remains of an ancient structure called by the people the Castle of S. David. It is now converted into a rectory.
At length David's strength began to fail. He was old and weary. Rhygyfarch says that he attained to the age of 147 years, which is absurd. When he felt that he was dying, he said Mass, and preached to the people on the Sunday. On the ensuing Tuesday, being March 1, he was in the Church, as he had been continually for several days, and early in the morning he listened to his clergy singing the psalms. Then falling into an ecstasy, he exclaimed, “Raise me after Thee ! ” and expired. “After hunger, and thirst, and cold, and labour, and fasting, and relieving the needy; after adversity, and temptation, and anxiety, the angels took his soul to the place where there is light without end, rest without labour, joy without sorrow—where there is health and no pain, youth and no old age, peace and no contention, music and no discord, and rewards without end." 2 At the very moment of his death his old companion S. Kentigern, whilst engaged in prayer at Llanelwy, had a vision ; he saw him enter heaven, conducted “with heavenly music into the joy of the Lord, and crowned with glory and honour"? The exiled Kentigern had been with him for some time at S. David's before he settled at Llanelwy.
When we come to fix the date of his death we are met with difficulties.
The Annales Cambriæ have against 601, “ David episcopus Moni Iudæorum," and they couple it with the death of Pope Gregory, which took place in 604. The Annals of Inisfallen give as the date 589, the Chronicon Scottorum, 588, and the Annals of Tighernach, 587.4 If we trust the Life of S. Kentigern, David died whilst that
I “ Tolle me post Te!” Cambro-British Saints, p. 142.
• The Annals of Tighernach are unreliable. The compiler did not give the date, but put KI, for Kalends, with the day of the week in which January i fell each year. But he forgot to reckon the leap years, ar d his dates precede the
Saint was still in Wales, before 574. The story told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, that Maelgwn Gwynedd ordered the burial of S. David to be carried out with great pomp, may be dismissed. William of Malmesbury gives 546, but this is too early, as 601 is too late. David died on March 1, which that year fell on a Tuesday. The day on which that date coincided with a Tuesday might be in 550, 561, 567, 572, 578, and 589. This last year will agree with the Annals of Inisfallen.
To help us in the determination of the true date we must consider the dates of the deaths of the contemporaries of David. Gildas was certainly older than he, and he died in 570 ; Cadoc about 577 ; Dyfrig, who was assuredly his senior by some years, died about 577. Finnian of Clonard died in 548, during the raging of the Yellow Plague, and died of it, according to the Annals of the Four Masters. Aidan or Maidoc, the pupil of S. David, certainly some twenty years his junior, died, as we have shown, about 625. Samson, his fellow-student under Illtyd, if we may trust one account, shortly after 557; and Paul of Léon about 560. Senan of Iniscathy, with whom he had entered into a compact of brotherhood, died, as nearly as can be determined, about 568. Brendan, of Clonfert, who visited him, died in 577 ; Constantine of Domnonia, another visitor, about 598
We are inclined to take 589 as the date at which David died, Archbishop Ussher was certainly wrong in putting the date so early as 544. The date of his birth was about 500, possibly a few years before that. It is hardly credible that it can have been protracted to 601, the date given in the Annales Cambriæ.
We have but conjecture, more or less plausible, to guide us towards fixing tentatively the periods in the Life of S. David when he formed his several foundations.
His first, we may suppose, was the Bangor or Henllan on the Teifi, in Ceredigion, granted to him by his father. The Old Bush would come to him from his maternal grandfather. This, as already shown, had been established some time before under Mancen or Maucan, apparently at the instigation of S. Patrick, but on land that pertained to Cynyr of Caer Gawch. There may have been an understanding that it was to be held by a stranger only until one of the founder's family was in the ecclesiastical profession and ready to assume the headship. In a Celtic monastery the rule as to headship was, “ The tribe of the patron saint shall get the Church as long as there shall be a person fit to be an abbot of the tribe of the patron saint, even though there should be but a psalm-singer of them, it true dates by about four years. Skene, Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, Edinburgh, 1867, p. xxxix.
is he that shall obtain the abbacy.” And, "the abbacy shall go to the tribe to whom the land belonged, until a person fit to be an abbot of the patron saint shall be qualified; when he is, the abbacy will be given to him, if he is better than the abbot from the tribe to whom the land belonged and who had taken it. If he be not better, then it is only in his turn that he shall succeed." 1 Only in the absence of any person, a blood-relation to the founder, could the abbacy be held by one not of the tribe, and he had to give securities to surrender the headship when a duly qualified person of the founder's kin appeared to claim it.”
Now the Old Bush must have been conceded by Cynyr to Marcen, according to Celtic rule, conditionally. It had to be vacated as soon as one of Cynyr's blood was prepared to become president. Whether Paulinus succeeded Mancen at the Old Bush is not very clear, but probably he did, and David became his pupil there, with the certainty of becoming abbot as soon as he was of age to assume the position, when Paulinus would surrender it to him without question.
In or about 527, when David was abbot, though quite young, Gildas appeared on the scene, and attempted to wrest the place from him, but failed. Finnian of Clonard, who was called in to settle the dispute, gave judgment in David's favour, He could do no other, as already said. David had a hereditary right to the place.
Next we have the Goidels expelled by Urien Rheged from the district in Carmarthen, and David called in to found churches there.
After 540, when appeared the violent Increpatio of Gildas against the Welsh princes, Gower must have been vacated by Cenydd, the son of Gildas, who had been the ecclesiastical head there. It would have been impossible for him to remain on the lands of a chief who had been covered with abuse by his father. Then David slipped in and made his foundations in Gower..
About what time he was in Cornwall, and he and his mother made settlements there, can only be guessed. He passed through Domnonia and planted churches at Thelbridge, Exeter, Ashprington and Dewstowe on his way. These foundations were probably made at no late period in his career.
When the Yellow Plague broke out, we hold that he departed to Léon in Brittany, and the period of his foundations there would be between 547 and 551.
On his return we have assumed that he travelled over nearly all south Wales up to the Wye, working along with S. Teilo in restor
1 Ancient Laws of Ireland, iii, p. 73. 2 Ibid. See Willis Bund, The Celtic Church of W'ales, c. 4, "Monasteries."