Saint David (approx. 520AD), the patron saint of Wales, was a man of mystery and legend. Today, the 1st March, is the day the Welsh dedicated to this holy man, a home grown hero and icon to many.
Some rumoured that he was the nephew of King Arthur, and the overall consensus is that he was descended from royalty, but chose a more spiritual path. He was famously a vegetarian, and notorious for leading an army into battle in his youth, with his men wearing leeks on their heads to distinguish them from the enemy! Now the leek is a national symbol in Wales, and still worn on this day during festivities, in memory of him.
In deciding to become a missionary, David travelled throughout Wales and England, founding numerous monasteries and spreading the word of the Lord. His dedication even took him to Jerusalem, where he was consecrated as a bishop. In 550AD he was granted the title of Archbishop of Wales, but continued to live the disciplined life he had maintained before, until the end of his days on 1st March 589AD.
He was buried in a cathedral, but during the Viking invasion the site was ransacked and pillaged. It was only after his death that his reputation grew, first spreading throughout the UK, and then to Brittany, until it finally reached Rome. In 1120AD, the Pope declared St. David as the Patron Saint of Wales, and thus strengthened his place in history.
Now, he is a point of pride in Wales. The people have advocated for the day to be converted into a national holiday, and schools and workplaces often close around midday for the celebrations. People dress in traditional garbs, and decorate themselves with leeks and daffodils, emblems of the Welsh national pride and spirit. This is the largest non-military event in Wales, and a significant, uniting occasion that serves to celebrate heritage and history with the friends and family of today.
For further reading on the Patron Saint, I recommend these sites: