Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More saints, alas

I try to heed friendly advice and keep the hagiographic references to a minimum. But today as a feast day is simply too replete with interesting characters to resist.

To start, there is Saint Nectan the Cephalophore. As is obvious from their name, cephalophores are head (cephalo) bearers (phores). Devotées of my fiction (all 7 of you) know all about Saint Dénis of Paris (sometimes called Dionysus), surely the world’s best-known cephalophore, and will soon (new book) become acquainted the Forty Monks of Magun.

The 6th century Welsh saint Nectan was the eldest of his father 24 children. A holy and venerable man, he was passing through a forest when he was attacked by robbers, and beheaded. So with his own hands, he lifted up his head and carried it a ways to a certain stone where he lay it down. Six centuries later the stone still bore the bloody traces of that head.

Saint Hypatius of Phrygia (ca. 446) courted disaster by vehemently protesting and defeating a proposal to revive the Olympic games. He said that he and his monks would rather die than see such pagan practices restored.

In Brittany, the second most popular boys name is Hervé (first is Yves), on account of the much-loved Saint Hervé. Blind from his birth, he was working in the fields one day when a wolf came and ate the ass that was pulling his plow. Rather than get upset, Hervé simply prayed, and the wolf thereupon put his head through the ass’s collar and finished plowing the field.

Just one more, my personal nomination for the patron saint of Desalination Plants: Saint Bessarion of Egypt. Like so many of the desert fathers, he fasted prodigiously and lived to a great age. But Bessarion also turned salt water into fresh and walked across the Nile.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I love the mixture of modern and ancient data here! And the photos of desalination plants in Egypt.
V. cool!