Saturday, 13 December 2008

Sanctuary much

Hello, and may I be the first to wish you a happy St. Jodocus’ Day. Perhaps I should warn you now that this post contains religion, but is not, in or of itself, religious. To those of you who have beliefs - please do not be offended. To those of you who do not - I say the same!

A couple of posts back, chatting as we were over the garden fence about wishbones, you may recall that I mentioned a gent called John Aubrey. He was a noted bon viveur, and author of Brief Lives, a series of pen-portraits of his contemporaries and near-contemporaries in the 17th century. Some of these are inaccurate, some scurrilous, and some downright naughty, but all are fascinating and I hope one day to introduce you to a few of the more interesting characters from his Lives.

Sadly, Mr. Aubrey is no longer with us, having passed away on the 7th June 1697. But it is not the date of his death that concerns me here, but rather that of his birth. According to his autobiographical notes, he was born on the 12th of March, 1625, which he claimed to be St. Gregory’s Day. Now, I took a brief trip into a Calendar of Saints, and discovered that Gregory died on the 12th of March, but that this was not his feast day; that actually falls upon the 3rd of September.

Being a rather maggoty headed individual, not unlike Aubrey himself, I couldn’t leave it there. Oh no. I just had to find out the name of the saint (if any!) whose feast day actually fell upon the 12th of March. And it turns out that there a great many of them. Alphege of Winchester, Bernard of Carinola, Dionysus the Carthusian, Egdunus, Joseph Tshang-ta-Pong, Luigi Orione, Maximilian, Mura, Paul Aurelian, Peter of Nicomedia, Peter the Deacon, Seraphina, Theophanes the Chronographer and Vindician.

Anyway, back to St. Gregory. Now, you probably all know about patron saints - St. Christopher for travellers, St. Francis for animals, and so forth. But St. Gregory is a true multi-tasker. Amongst other things, he is the patron saint of choirboys, gout, musicians, popes, stone masons and the West Indies. Quite a mixture, you might say, and probably spectacularly useful if you are a musical port-drinking sculptor from Barbados. But these are by no means the strangest people or places to be ‘patronised’ by a particular saint. Are you, perchance, afraid of mice? Then you need to have a chat with Gertrude of Nivelles. (Oh, and she does rats as well). Are you a comedian? If so, St. Vitus is your man. Do you suffer from haemorrhoids? St. Fiacre would probably be able to lend a hand. Do you have an unreasoning fear that you will be killed by artillery fire? Call St. Barbara. Perhaps you’re thinking of setting up a business; maybe a coffee shop? Then give St. Drogo a shout.

St. Drogo is an interesting chap. Apparently he had the ability to bilocate; in other words, he could be in two places at the same time, being seen both at mass and out working in the fields. And not only is he the patron of coffee house keepers. He also keeps an eye out for the hard of hearing, for those afflicted with gallstones, for midwives, orphans, sheep and (this one’s for me!) unattractive people. And speaking of unattractive people, let’s not forget St. Wilgefortis (otherwise known as St. Uncumber) who prayed so hard to be rid of a tiresome suitor that she was able to grow a luxuriant beard and moustache. She is the patron saint for ‘difficult’ marriages; the saint to whom women prayed in the middle ages if they wished to be rid of their husbands.

If you can name it, there is a patron saint for it. Everything from the city of Aachen (Apollinaris) to zoos (Francis of Assisi). And, in between, thieves, paratroopers, murderers, boxers, blackbirds, dog fanciers (eh?), motorways, coin collectors, soap boilers and people who whitewash things for a living. However, try as I might, I can’t find a single saint who sticks up for us pensioners (albeit there are no less than three for Old Maids - a term which I thought had long since died out!) But no matter. In my other incarnation as a Blogger (I have devised a new word for what we are - Blognator for a gentleman blogger, Blognatrix for the female of the species) I do at least have St. Isidore of Seville, who is patron of computer users and the Internet!


Comedy Goddess said...

Today is also St. Hagop's day according to the Armenian church calendar. My father, whose name is Hagop and who is also Armenian, is bestowing blessings upon the neighbors. They thought it was just a neighborhood holiday party, but we slipped in this Saint thing to mix it up. That's how we roll here in Saintsville.

willow said...

WT bought me a book of patron saints for Christmas. It's wrapped and under the tree, so I can't look up any obscure ones, like I am itching to do right now, to spice up this comment. ;^) Fun post, Chris!

chris hale said...

CG - Fantastic name, Hagop. Makes Chris sound rather mundane and pedestrian.

Willow - thanks! Sorry, but there doesn't seem to be a patron saint for impatience...

Gloria Traveler said...

Poor St. Fiacre, all those years of piety and faith just to end up the patron St of hemorrhoids.

Simplicity said...

Blognatrix - LOVE that! :)

chris hale said...

Gloria - yes, I expect he always has piles of work to do.

Simplicity - please feel free to use it, with my compliments!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - I wrote about the very same thing back here. in January. What I was asking is how there can be a saint for something as specific as fighing Communism? Or Medical Record Librarians? I can understand people dying for a cause and being seen as martyrs ... but I'm not sure how I'd feel if my death was commemorated by making me patron saint of taxi drivers.

Excellent postage as usual!

Oh, and the word verication was volesizl which is, of course, the act of pan-drying a small rodent.

chris hale said...

How indeed? I think they must look at their ancient attributes and try to find some modern trade or calling that mirrors them. No such problem for St. Alexander the Charcoal Burner, who is the patron of charcoal burners!

I just knew voles would make an appearance at some stage!

Derrick said...

Come on Chris, having got us all fired up about St Jodocus, the poor chap doesn't get a look in! What's his speciality?

And could you let me know to whom I should be sending missives, as a shopkeeper?

Otherwise, most informative and enjoyable as ever.

WV this time is sloortra: a Scottish abbatoir worker, perhaps?

chris hale said...

Hi Derrick.

Jodocus was a seventh century king in Brittany. Apparently some of his relics can be found at Winchester Cathedral. He is the patron of boatmen, mariners, sailors, watermen, the harvest, and protects against fever, fire, storms and shipwrecks. Another multi-tasker!

The closest I can get to a patron for your good self is St. Homobonus, the patron of business people and merchants. He died in Italy in 1197. His feast day is the 13th November.

Incidentally, today is the feast day for no less than twenty-three saints!

chris hale said...

Nearly forgot...your definition is brilliant!

Comedy Goddess said...

I should have mentioned, Hagop is pronounced with a short a and a long o.

wv: suplatua

above the platua

Jeane said...

Saints Alive! Oxymoron

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Is there a patron saint for giraffes?

(Current Word Verification: eststomf. This is a vigorous folk dance from the mountainous region east of Raffsburgh. Maybe I'll do a future blog post about it...)

punk in writing said...

I've found my saint.

Francis de Sales is the patron saint of writers and journalists. He was bishop of Genova and wrote books on spiritual formation.

He had a way with words and if he had been born in 1967 instead of 1567 he would have written some great christian pop songs.

chris hale said...

CG - Short a and long o - I shall remember! I have a short c and a long s.

Jeane - Indeed - a bit like Police Intelligence(!)

Raph - If that neck of yours ever gets stiff, then it's St. Ursicinus of Saint-Ursanne. Oh, and that dance sounds very like the Estampie.

Punky - He also looks after the deaf; I feel I may have need of him in the not too distant future!

Maureen Treeging said...

I wonder - are you the patron saint of word verification? If so, please could you give my husband absolution from Word Verification Syndrome? It's 1.08am GWT and he's been sitting all night scribbling interpretations!

chris hale said...

Maureen - No, merely its temporary guardian. To be a saint I'd have to be dead, and I'm pretty sure I can still feel my pulse.

Tell Raph I salute his tenacity, and let him know him he's absolved.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

I would definitely be in touch with St Fiacre, rather an ignominious stance in death. I loved the post, most interesting.

deck, singular
decks, plural - 2 decks
deckses = lots of decks

chris hale said...

AV - yes indeed. The prohibition on women does seem a little churlish, but is not unique. There is a monastery in Greece (Mt. Athos, I think) that bans all females, including female animals, from the mountain on which it is situated.

Thank you for your kind words.

Deckses - sounds like the sort of thing Gollum might say!

Derrick said...

Hi Chris,

A belated thank you for answering my earlier questions. For some reason I seem to be getting some but not all updates of comments on your post!

WV - hotis: sounds latin or the posh pronunciation of Mr Redding's christian name!

chris hale said...

Perhaps the Internet is trying to censor me!

Hotis - Yes, it does sound rather Latin; it is, in fact, the ablative plural of the masculine noun Hotus, a hot water bottle. (in other words, by, with or from hot water bottles)(!)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Greetings from Knollshire to Middenshire. Thought I'd let you know yours is one of my favourite blogs - I've put it on my 'First Class Blogs I like to read' list, which I've just created to go on mine.

(NB: Just been reading the anagrams on Stevyn Colgan's blog comments - brilliant! Can you work out one for my name?)

Word V. today is 'iness'- a type of narcissism occasionally found on blogs!

Sarah said...

I thought I would look up the patron saint of doll makers but have not had luck yet-well that is because I am impatient and the kettle just boiled and I want a cup of tea. However I found the blog of someone called Arabella Cucumber which is a name too good to be true, and she had written about St Seraphina, patron saint of people who sew(amongst other things-Saints seem to like to have more than one job)
I want to be able to bilocate, it sounds perfect.
artroc-the act of swaying back and forth gently whilst standing in front of an impressive but obscure painting in a gallery.

chris hale said...

Raph - thank you!

Unfortunately your name is very difficult to anagrammatize. However, I have come up with:

Graph Mc Kennan
Ken Mc Phragann
Prankman Cheng

The rather mysterious:

N. Phanckmanger

And a law enforcement officer:

PC Hank Germann.

Sarah - good luck with your continuing hunt! I can well understand that the need for tea can outweigh one's curiosity regarding other matters.

Do you, perchance, have Ms. Cucumber's website address?

Yes, bilocation would be useful. You could look at more than one picture in said art gallery!

Derrick said...

Me again, Chris!

I like hotis. An old boss of mine could spout forth (not suggesting you do that!) on the use of the ablative. Hadn't a clue what he was on about!

WV - wingsh: a slightly tipsy Christmas angel?

chris hale said...

Ah, Derrick! And I haven't even got on to gerundives!

Wingsh is good. Very seasonal! I think I'm beginning to see some kind of pattern in these words. Which is probably very worrying...

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Chris the subject of Blogator and Blogatrix intrigued me, The plural of the fem, would of course be blogatrices...

This is enough to give one aritase

aritase, a dislike like of Aretha F. perhaps

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Hail O Wordsmith of Middenshire! The anagrams are brilliant! I've devoted a whole post to them - thank you so much.

Sarah said...

Hi, yes it is

chris hale said...

AV - Ouch! You missed out the Ns! How can we get any eggs without Ns? Blognatrices is wot it should be, of course. The plural sounds like some fabulous beast, does it not? The masculine plural could be Blognatori, or possibly even Blognati - the online version of the Illuminati, perchance?

Raph - I have perused your post, and jolly good it is too! And I love the piccies!

Sarah - Thanks. I shall visit Ms. Cucumber at a more appropriate hour, it now being almost midnight Middenshire Time.