St David statue blessed before journey to France
A statue of St David is to begin its 400-mile (644 km) journey to its new home in France.
The statue, which stands at over 3m (9.8ft) and weighs about five tonnes, is made from a block of granite and took more than eight months to create.
It was blessed on Wednesday at a ceremony in Llansawel, Carmarthenshire.
The Rt Rev Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids, was lifted in a specially adapted forklift to anoint the statue's forehead with oil.
She said she was "terrified" but added it was a "great joy" to bless the monument.
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The bishop said that the statue's journey overseas was fitting, because when the plague hit Wales in the 6th Century, St David was a child and took refuge in Brittany.
"There were great links between the two lands so it's wonderful this statue is going from here to Brittany, to remind people of St David and the Age of the Saints," she explained.
Sculptor Paul Kincaid created the artwork at his workshop in Llansawel, where he is a church warden.
He said that creating the statue had been "quite a challenge".
Mr Kincaid added: "The sponsors had wanted me to include a dove as part of the piece but I hadn't wanted to.
"Then one night at my drawing board, a white dove landed on the window ledge.
"It kept coming back and I though 'this is a visitation!' so of course I had to include a dove in the statue."
The statue will leave Carmarthenshire on Thursday morning and begin a journey by lorry to Plymouth, where it will travel by ferry to Roscoff, Brittany.
It will then spend a month touring sites in Brittany before being permanently installed at sculpture park Vallee Des Saints, where more than 100 Celtic saints are commemorated in stone.
The park was established in 2008 and was inspired by Egypt's Valley of the Kings.
The statue will be formally inaugurated into Vallee Des Saints on 11 August.