Saturday, 1 November 2014

My very own saint.

This is not Saint George despite the dragon
As most people probably know, every saint has his or her own domain and responsibilities. For instance good old George looks after us English as well as those from Barcelona, not to mention 20 other countries, 22 other cities, as well as of the Scouting Movement and a wide range of professions, organizations, and disease sufferers including leprosy, plague, herpes and syphilis.

But apart from being English, I don’t feel a particular link to him. In fact when I started visiting local churches, it surprised me to find out that the chap I had been identifying as St George all this time, was in fact Saint Michael.

Sain Curé
I can now admit that the only saint that I recognised correctly when we started visiting catholic churches, was Joan of Arc, the rest I have had to learn over time. For instance the weird looking priest whose head leans forward a bit like Scrooge is the Saint Curé d’Ars who is the patron saint of priests and who comes from a small town not far from here, the monk dressed in brown with a small child on his shoulder is Saint Anthony patron the saint who helps you find lost items, not to be confused with the Saint Anthony with the pig who it seems you take your pig to, to be blessed or so I was told the other day by someone showing us around his church.

In the sculptures or images, each saint is depicted in the same way every time, with the same features, so that you can easily identify him or her. I have slowly learned their names, some but not all have plaques, sometimes there are helpful old ladies in the churches to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, sometimes I can find the name by looking in the handy brochures left in the church or sometimes they take a lot of research on the internet when I get home. There are however a small cluster of saints who remain in my photo collection as still unnamed.

Who is he?
Let’s go back to my faux-pas with George to show how this works. He is usually depicted killing a dragon. Inside churches he is normally without a horse, but outside he tends to be sitting on a horse. In my ignorance I assumed that all dragon killers were George, but that is not the case, it appears that Michael killed a dragon or two as well, hence my confusion. So how do you tell the difference? If there is a horse, then it is obviously George, but without one you have to look further. I’ll put you out of your misery - Michael is the one with wings because not only is he a saint but he is an angel as well.

It certainly makes visiting churches an interesting puzzle at times. Now when I enter a church, I scan the saints for unknown ones, I photograph them for my collection and then try and find out who they are. Surprisingly even after all these years, we still run across a saint I do not know the name of. My latest unknown saint is this chappy. When I Googled “saint with watering can and shovel” I ended up with pictures of garden gnomes, which made me smile, but did not send me in the right direction as it could have done - I was stumped actually.

Google option
Then I thought to ask Cees the name of the church and all was revealed, the church was Saint Fiacre. When I looked him up it appears that he is normally pictured holding a shovel. Problem solved. So what is he responsible for? Well he is the patron saint of “those who grow vegetables and medicinal plants, and of gardening in general” (a Wikipedia quote) a saint after my own heart.

So when I am next out tending my garden, I will be thinking of my very own patron saint and I must say I prefer the idea of him looking over me than that of a dragon killer who I can’t always identify.

For information on our holiday accommodation surrounded by a lovely garden click here.

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