Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quirky Saints


Simeon of Stylites waiting for his lunch 

Sometimes it's obvious as to why a saint is the patron of a particular discipline or struggle. Other times, it's a bit of a stretch. Here are four saints whose stories are much like the pictures of constellations: you have to squint and look at them from different angles in order to figure out how they came to be recognized as saints with particular areas of expertise.

Magnus of Füssen:
Saint invoked against caterpillars, perhaps because he spared a baby dragon who helped farmers get rid of pestilence. He also had a way with animals: once, a bear in the woods showed Magnus a vein of iron ore, and Magnus gave the bear some cake.

Neot:
Patron saint of fish. Neot spent much of his day in a well up to his neck in water while he practiced his devotions. He definitely gets points for style.

Simeon of Stylites:
There are discrepancies as to exactly how many decades Simeon spent atop a pillar, but he started a whole movement of pillar dwelling among Eastern hermits. While he has no official patronage, I think of Simeon of Stylites as the patron saint of people who sit upon poles. You know who they are.

Vitus:
When Vitus was martyred by being thrown into boiling oil, a rooster was thrown into the oil with him, sacrificed as part of the ritual against sorcery. Hence, Vitus is the patron saint invoked against oversleeping.

3 comments:

galetea said...

On one of our trips down to Cornwall, my folks and I stayed in a town called St. Neot. Local ledgend said he was a midget as well.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Cool! I think it's great that some of these lesser-known saints have their own local lore and traditions. According to the link I posted, Neot was 15 inches tall. I think he should be the patron saint of people who have dwarfism, unless there is a saint of that nature already. Time for more research...

P.S. I have always wanted to go to Cornwall. So many novels take place there that I have a romantic picture in my head of what it is like.

galetea said...

Cornwall is spectacular. :) The coast is unbelievably beautiful.