St David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
St Davids or St David's is a city, and a parish in Pembrokeshire.
St Davids is the United Kingdom's smallest city in terms of both size and population. Being the final resting place of Saint David, Wales's patron saint, it is the de facto ecclesiastical capital of Wales.
St Davids was given city status in the 16th century because of St David's Cathedral. City status was lost in 1888 but, at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, restored in 1994.
Tradition states that David was born to Saint Non at what is now St Non's, just to the south of the city, in about AD 500. It is said that he was baptised at Porthclais, now the city's port, and was brought up by his mother at Llanon. St David may also have been educated at Ty Gwyn, Whitesands, by St Paulinus.
In the 6th century, David founded a monastery and church at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale) on the banks of the River Alun. The monastic brotherhood that David founded was very strict — besides praying and celebrating masses, they cultivated the land and carried out many crafts, including beekeeping, in order to feed themselves and the many pilgrims and travellers who needed lodgings.
The settlement that grew up around the monastery was called Tyddewi meaning "David's house". In 519 the archbishopric of Caerleon in the county of Monmouth was transferred to Mynyw, which was renamed "St Davids" in honour of the archbishop and saint by whom the transfer was accomplished.
The original cathedral built on the site was often plundered by the Vikings and was finally burnt and destroyed in 1087. The present cathedral was built by the Normans and contained many relics, including the remains of St David. It was visited by many pilgrims, many of whom were nobles and kings, including William the Conqueror in 1077, Henry II in 1171, and Edward I and Queen Eleanor in 1284. Pope Calixtus II decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equivalent to one to Rome ("Roma semel quantum dat bis Menevia tantum"). Because of this, a vast income was raised from visiting pilgrims in the Middle Ages.
Pilgrimages later fell out of favour due to practices such as the selling of indulgences, and the income from them faded away.
Since then, better transport and the advent of tourism have helped the city prosper again. Next to the cathedral, the 13th-century Bishop's Palace is a ruin maintained by Cadw and open to visitors. The city was once a marcher borough, within which lay the hundred of Dewisland. In 1603, the antiquarian George Owen described it as one of five Pembrokeshire boroughs overseen by a portreeve.