Well, well, what do you know, we’re rolling into the penultimate month of medieval saints. Only June and July left and we’ll have the full set. What should next year’s monthly post theme be?* We’ve already done monthly chores and now saints. Must think more on this.
June 5 is reserved for the Feast of St. Boniface, missionary to the Franks and Frisians. Though an ecclesiastical administrator of great importance, Boniface was nonetheless no mere pencil-pushing clerk; in fact, he defeated the mighty Thor, lion of Asgard, in one-on-one combat!
Well… a one-on-one pray-off, anyway. When coming to a holy oak tree dedicated to a certain avenging god of thunder**, Boniface dared Thor to strike him down if he felled it. Felling happened, Boniface went un-downstruck, and the Frisians were converted. According to one version of the story, Boniface went on to trash talk the defeated Thor, asking the assembled crowd, “How stands your mighty God now, bitches?”**** For his role in their conversion, he’s now the patron Saint of Germany, and because Germans like their beer, he’s also the patron of brewers.
St. Edmund Rich, really shouldn’t be on my calendar for June, but lookie lookie, there he is, sandwiched between Boniface and Barnabus. Usually this English saint, famous for preaching the Sixth Crusade in England and for being so holy that he slept standing up, has his feast in November. It’s possible his feast originally fell in June and was later moved, but he’s not an important enough saint that anyone cares enough to note it.
Since I just had you look up at the calendar image, you no doubt noticed the saint to Edmund’s right who looks like he’s holding a hotdog on a stick. That’s supposed to be a pilgrim’s staff held by St. Barnabus, whose feast arrives on June 11. St. Barney is a New Testament saint, so it’s probably best that I not make too many jokes about him, so instead I’ll just note that you can pray to him to ward off hailstorms.
The English bias of my calendar reveals itself once more as it notes that June 15 marks the Feast of St. Eadburga, a minor royal saint, the daughter of King Edward the Elder of England and later aunt of King Edgar the Peaceable. Nevertheless, she was quite popular in England through the fourteenth century or so, likely due to the success of her Vita, written by Osbert de Clare, who also wrote a well-received life of the far more famous saint, Edward the Confessor. Let this be a lesson to those of you considering sainthood as a postmortem career. Be sure to sign a book deal early with a best-selling saintly biographer.
June 17 brings us to The Feast of St. Botulph, yet another minor English saint, this one a seventh-century abbot who is a patron saint for travelers and farmers. Bostonians have special reason to venerate him, however, as it’s a corruption of his name that gives their city its name. St. Botolph founded a monastery that people referred to as Botolph’s Town, which got shortened to Botolphston, which got shortened to Boston. I know it sounds like I just made that up, but for real, that’s the etymology of Boston.*****
*Aside from more timely, I mean.
**A certain “I say thee nay”-saying god coming to theaters in 2011!***
***Or his dad. Or some unnamed god. There are a lot of versions of every medieval story, and I pick them on a strict most awesomeness policy.
****So I took a few liberties with the translation, sure, but the sentiment is there.
*****Also, Washington comes from St. Washingolph. Again, totally serious.*****
******Or am I…?*******
*******I am. Totally.