Why do pilgrims travel to St. Davids?

In early Christian times only the wealthy could afford to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Rome. But at the beginning of the twelfth century Pope Calixtus II announced that two pilgrimages to St. Davids was equal to one to Rome, and that three pilgrimages to St. Davids equalled one to Jerusalem. The importance the Pope gave to St. Davids brought pilgrims in their thousands to the rugged coast of West Wales.

If you read the stories about Saint David, you will find out that people believed he performed many miracles. This made him a very special holy man - a saint. Pilgrims believe that the closer they can get to a saint, the closer they will be to God.

Early pilgrims would have come to St. Davids because David was buried there (although it is believed that his bones are no longer in the cathedral). These pilgrims would have wanted to visit the place which David built and be near the things he touched. Like pilgrims today, they wanted to feel the peace and sacredness of this holy place. They thought this would make their prayers more effective.

Royal Pilgrims

Royal visitors also visited David's shrine. The Welsh kings Rhys ap Tewdwr and Gruffudd ap Cynan swore an oath of friendship on the relics of St. David.

When Henry II landed in Whitesands Bay, he travelled to the cathedral dressed as a pilgrim.

Edward 1 and his Queen also visited the shrine.

Perhaps one of the most important royal visitors was William the Conqueror, who travelled to St. Davids soon after the Battle of Hastings.

Royalty still visit the beautiful cathedral. In 1974 our present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, declared that St. Davids was to be officially recognised as a city.

Did you know that . . . . St. Davids is the smallest city in Great Britain