St Mary in Window 3 St Mary's, Fairford

St Mary's Church

St Mary's, Fairford Angel in Window 1

St David and St Patrick

St David

St David (6th C) and St Patrick (5th C), unlike Sts George and Andrew, are both British. There is an old stone hut near the city that bears St David’s name in Pembrokeshire where it is claimed he was born. St Patrick was born in Bannavem Taburniae, a region that possibly stretched from Cornwall to the Clyde – suggesting that he could be English, Welsh or Scottish. Both became bishops and founded several monasteries, though there is some doubt as to whether St Patrick was a monk; St David chose a humble life living on bread, vegetables and water. Much of their histories are mixed with legends.

Did St Patrick actually drive all the snakes out of Ireland? It is most likely that there weren’t any snakes in Ireland. They could not have survived the Cold of the Ice Ages. By the time the last Ice Age ended the Irish Sea had been established, whilst a land bridge existed between England and the continent across which snakes could have crossed before the ice melted enough to flood this land bridge away. It is said that the cult of St David was started by the Welsh in opposition to the saints at Canterbury.

St David (above), St Patrick (right)

St Patrick

The national emblems are the shamrock for Ireland and the leek and daffodil for Wales. There is a story that St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. The leek and the daffodil are the same word (ceninen) in Welsh. The wearing of leeks by Welsh soldiers is referred to by Shakespeare and there is a story that St David told Welsh soldiers to wear leeks in their hats during a battle with the pagan Saxons. There are no early records of the daffodil, but as one commentator says ‘the daffodil makes a better button-hole!’

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