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May 24

St David I of Scotland - May 24 - Statue_of_David_I_on_the_West_Door_of_St._Giles_High_Kirk,_Edinburgh

Saint David I of Scotland

King of Scotland

(Around 1084 – 1153)

“Let 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 God’s 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 hand.”

Saint David I of Scotland

His Early Life

David was born around 1084 in Scotland as the the sixth and youngest son of King Malcolm III and Queen Saint Margaret of Scotland. He was the brother of Saint Matilde in whose court he grew up and was educated. Although David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, in 1093, David was sent to Norman court in England.

Married Matilda

When his brother Alexander acceded to the throne of Scotland in 1107, David became prince of Cumbria.  David had spent part of his youth at the court of his brother in law, Henry I of England. In 1113, he had married Matilda, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon. As a result David himself controlled the Earldom of Northampton and its huge estates in southern England. As prince of Cumbria he was entitled to an inheritance in southern Scotland.

King of Scotland

In 1124, rather reluctantly, David became King of Scotland after Alexander’s death. He waged a long war against King Stephen for the throne of England on behalf of his niece Matilda, but was defeated at Standard in 1138. Nonetheless, David was still able to ensure that the Treaty of Durham in 1139 granted Northumberland to the Scots. Ten years later, he gained the agreement of Matilda’s son, the future Henry II of England, that Scotland could retain Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland. From then on, David devoted his attention to Scotland. He brought with him many knights and courtiers from Norman England – many of whom became the future aristocrats and even kings of Scotland

As King of Scotland, David was much more successful, ruling with firmness, justice, and charity. He established Norman law in Scotland, set up the office of chancellor, and began the feudal court. He also learned the spirit of Cistercian monks from Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, who for a time was David’s steward. Scottish monasticism began to flower from the start of David’s reign and countless almshouses, leper-hospitals, and infirmaries were established.

The Davidian Revolution: Building up of Institutions in Scotland

David reorganised the institutions of Scotland. The monasteries founded under David’s patronage were superb architecturally as well as spiritually. King David refounded Melrose Abbey on the main road from Edinburgh to the south.  Melrose Abbey remained one of the richest houses in Scotland.


St David I of Scotland - May 24 - Ruins of Melrose Abbey
This Cistercian monastery, Melrose Abbey, in Melrose, Scotland was founded in 1137 and  became one of David’s greatest legacies.

In 1138, David also founded Jedburgh Abbey, filling it was monks from Beauvais in France. In 1142, at Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway, he founded a splendid abbey and staffed it with Cistercians from Rievaulx. The monasteries significantly improved the economy of Scotland by their innovations in areas like sheep farming, coal working and salt producing. All in all, David founded more than a dozen new monasteries in his reign, patronizing various new monastic orders.

David also founded a series of royal burghs like Stirling, Perth and Dunfermline; he was responsible for Scotland’s first coinage; and he brought many Anglo-Normans into the southern half of the country to help with the process of government.

When his wife died, David gave even more attention to religious matters – reciting the Divine Office himself and giving alms. In all, he exercised an wholly civilizing influence.

His Death

On the Friday he was anointed and given viaticum. Then David spent much time in praying psalms with his attendants. On Saturday, they urged him to rest, but David replied, “Let 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 God’s 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 hand”. And so David continued to pray.  At dawn on Sunday, David passed away peacefully on May 24, 1153 in Carlisle, Scotland of natural causes.

He was buried at Dunfermline Abbey, where his cult continued until the Reformation. Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, who had been a steward at David’s court in his youth, delivered the eulogy, praising his reluctance to become king, his sense of justice and his accessibility to everyone. Certainly, David’s period as king heightened the national reputation of Scotland.

David has never formally been canonized, though he is listed on both Protestant and Catholic calendars.

Born :                   Around 1084 in Scotland

Died:                    May 24, 1153 in Carlisle, Scotland

Beatified:            Never formally beatified

Canonized:         Never formally beatified

Feast Day:           May 24

Patron Saint:      Scotland



On his deathbed, Saint David I of Scotland stated that he would rather “think about the things of God, so that my spirit may set out strengthened on its journey from exile to home.” Even if we are not on our deathbed, every day we are taking steps on our spiritual journey “from exile to home”.

What “things of God” will you think and pray about today to strengthen your journey “from exile to home”?


Saint David I of Scotland,

We remember your devoted service to God and your efforts to reform and modernize your kingdom. You were a beacon of faith and a wise ruler. We ask for your intercession in our own lives today.

Please guide us in our pursuit of justice, wisdom, and compassion. Help us to be inspired by your commitment to the church and to governance, and to use our own talents and resources for the betterment of society.

As you promoted unity and cultural exchange, may we strive for harmony and understanding among all people. Through your example, may we find the strength to make a positive impact on the world around us.

Saint David I of Scotland, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 24 May – St David, King of Scotland (1085-1183)

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint David of Scotland

Catholic Ireland – May 24 – St David of Scotland (1085-1153)

Catholic Online – St. David I of Scotland

Independent Catholic News – St David of Scotland

Robert Sewell – St. David of Scotland

Saint of the Day – May 24 St. David I of Scotland

Undiscovered Scotland – King David I

Video Link

DAILY SAINTS I May 24 I St. David I of Scotland [Age 68-69] – YouTube (Carmel Preran)