19 June 2011

19 June - Saints Gervase and Protase

Weather: If it rains on St. Gervase and Protase day, it will rain for forty days after.

Saints Gervasius and Protasius were twin brothers, sons of Saints Vitalis and Valeria.  After their parents were martyred, the youths gave away their inheritance for the use of the poor, causing a lot of hate and discontent among the pagans.  Their legend says that the heathen priests concocted a story to make the local ruler of Mediolanum (Milan) believe that he would not be successful in war unless Gervasius and Protasius denied Christ and sacrificed to the gods.  Hauled one at a time before the ruler, the brothers ably defended their faith, at the same time taunting him with being afraid of them.  For this, Gervasius was scourged to death with lead-tipped whips and Protasius was beaten and beheaded "on the thirteenth of the kalends of July", sometime in the second century.

"Therefore, dear Saints, may He perchance vouchsafe to raise up, through your intercession, mankind and our present society from the degradation of a fatal servility; to banish error, to save the Church who cannot indeed perish, but whom He loves to deliver by means of her Saints."  
The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Guéranger.

At one time, they were considered so important, that their day was a solemn feast, preceded by a vigil.  Churches were dedicated to them throughout Europe.  Their names are still found in the litany of Saints, although the calendar reform removed their feast day.

Considered the first martyrs of Milan, they are patrons of that city.  They are also patrons of haymakers.   As this is haymaking time, and continual dry weather is very important to that activity, it is little wonder that farmers would look anxiously at the sky today, and pray to the saints to keep the rain clouds away.