St. David's Cathedral (St. David's, Wales)
St. David's Cathedral is located in the city of St David's (Tyddewi - house of David - in Welsh) in the far southwest of Wales. The cathedral is dedicated to David of Wales, the patron saint of the Principality, and whose feast day is March 1. St. David's relics are contained in the shrine dedicated to him behind the High Altar. of the cathedral. The cathedral lies on the site of the monastery founded by St. David prior to his repose in 589.
Unusual for a Western European cathedral, St. David's Cathedral is located in a valley at the foot of a hill rather than on it, dominating its small city (modern St Davids is little more than a small country village). The cathedral is virtually invisible to passersby unless they are overlooking the valley. This location is said to have been chosen for its defensive properties, but the site was attacked and destroyed several times from the seventh to eleventh centuries. St. David's Cathedral nonetheless remained an important centre of learning in the early medieval period and, in the ninth century, King Alfred requested help from St. David's in rebuilding the intellectual life of Wessex following his victories over the Vikings.
Construction of the present cathedral began in 1181. While architecturally important in its own right, and an official site of pilgrimage for the Roman Catholic Church from at least 1123 (before the current structure's construction two visits to St Davids were equal to one visit to Rome), the cathedral's importance today is that it contains the shrine to St. David that not only has the relics of St. David but also those of St. Justinian of Ramsey Island, and possibly those of St. Caradoc, all from the Orthodox period of Christianity in Wales.