St. David of Scotland

The following account to the life of St. David, King David (I) of Scotland is quoted from Thurston and Attwater:  Butlerís Lives of the Saints, Thomas More Publishing, Allen, Texas (1956), pg. 383 Ė384.

The good deeds of St. David
    "The name of this king occurs in several old Scottish calendars and more than one modern Catholic church is dedicated in his honour; he belongs to the category of popularly canonized national heroes, the particulars of whose life belong mainly to secular history. He was born about 1080, the youngest of the six sons of King Malcolm Cænmore and his queen, St Margaret. In 1093 he was sent to the Norman court in England, where he remained for some years. When his brother Alexander succeeded to the Scottish throne in 1107, David became prince of Cumbria (roughly the Lowlands), and by his marriage in 1113 to Matilda, widow of the earl of Northampton, he became earl of Huntingdon. In 1124 he succeeded his brother as King David I.

    "St Ælred of Rievaulx was in his earlier years master of the household to David with whom he kept up a close friendship, and after the kingís death he wrote an account of him. In it he speaks of Davidís reluctance to accept the crown, of the justice of his rule, of his almsdeeds and his accessibility to all, of his efforts to maintain concord among the clergy, of his personal piety, and in general of the great work he did for the consolidation of the kingdom of Scotland. Ælredís only criticism was of his failure to control the savagery and rapacity of his troops when he invaded England, on behalf of his niece Matilda against Stephen. For this David was very contrite, and is said to have looked on his defeat at the Battle of the Standard and elsewhere and the early death of his only son as just retribution therefor.

    "It was afterwards complained that King Davidís benefactions to the Church impoverished the crown, among the critics being his fifteenth-century successor, James I. For not only did he found the royal burghs of Edinburgh, Berwick, Roxburgh, Stirling and perhaps Perth, but he also established the bishoprics of Brechin, Dunblane, Caithness, Ross and Aberdeen and founded numerous monasteries. Among them were the Cistercian houses of Melrose, Kinloss, Newbattle and Dundrennan, and Holyrood itself for Augustinian canons.

    "St Ælred gives a circumstantial account of Davidís death at Carlisle on May 24, 1153. On the Friday he was anointed and given viaticum, and then spent much time in praying psalms with his attendants. On Saturday they urged him to rest, but he replied, ďLet me rather think about the things of God, so that my spirit may set out strengthened on its journey from exile to home. When I stand before Godís tremendous judgement-seat you will not be able to answer for me or defend me; no one will be able to deliver me from His handĒ. And so he continued to pray; and at dawn of Sunday he passed away peacefully as if he slept.

    "St David had helped to endow Dunfermline Abbey, founded by his father and mother, and he had peopled it with Benedictine monks from Canterbury. There he was buried, and at his shrine his memory was venerated until the Reformation."

    St. David's feast day is May 24, the anniversary of his death.

Click here to return to the Kings of Scotland Page.