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St Davids, diocese of

St Davids, diocese of. The cathedral of St David, which still houses the bones of the patron saint of Wales, is one of the outstanding buildings in the principality. On the site of David's monastery, famous as a centre of learning and for the austerity of its community life, the present cathedral dates from the early 12th cent. and the episcopate of Bishop Bernard. Bernard persuaded Pope Calixtus II to canonize David, and also to decree that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equal to one to Rome, a decision which ensured the popularity of the shrine until the Reformation. Bernard's church was entirely rebuilt by Peter de Leia (1176–97) and enlarged in the 14th and 15th cents. The diocese originally covered the greater part of south-west and mid-Wales, until 1923 when the newly created see of Swansea and Brecon removed Breconshire, Radnorshire, and parts of west Glamorgan from its jurisdiction. It is largely rural, and much of the population bilingual, with few large towns other than Llanelli. In the years since Bernard there have been many notable bishops, including the protestant martyr Robert Ferrar, William Laud, and the distinguished patristic scholar George Bull.

Revd Dr John R. Guy

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