19 August 2011

19 August - Saint Louis, Bishop; Saint Sebald

Weather: If it rains on Saint Louis' day, it will rain for eight days.

Gardening: This is a good day for sowing turnips, for kind St. Sebald can cause each seed to produce a fine root.

This is the feast of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse (1274-1297)

He was the second son of Charles II of Anjou, King of Naples, and Mary, the daughter of King Stephen V of Hungary.  His father's uncle was Saint Louis IX of France; on his mother's side, he was related to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Isabella of Portugal.

In 1284, during the War of the Sicilian Vespers, Charles II was taken prisoner by King Peter III of Aragon. He was liberated four years later with certain conditions, one of them being that he leave his sons Louis, Robert and Raymond as hostages.  In their seven years of captivity in Aragon, the young princes were instructed by Franciscan friars.  His elder brother Charles Martel died in the same year that Louis was freed, and he immediately renounced his inheritance in favor of his younger brother Robert, whereupon he became, in rapid succession, sub-deacon, deacon, and priest.  He then took vows as a Franciscan (and was solemnly professed four days later), prior to being consecrated Bishop of Toulouse in December of 1296.  His episcopacy was short-lived, as he died the following August of a fever at the age of 23.

Even in that short amount of time, he was revered for his holiness and for the care of the poor in his diocese.  He was canonized in 1317, and his relics removed by the Franciscans to Valencia, of which city he is the patron saint.

He should be the patron saint of those who want things to happen in a hurry.  Not many people can go from layperson to Bishop in a little over a year, or take simple religious vows and be solemnly professed within a week.

This is also the feast of Saint Sebaldus - or Sebald - of Nuremberg, who is invoked against cold weather (we don't need cold weather in the midst of harvest!)  Of this saint we have very little information, including when he lived.  However, the sources I've found refer to the legend that he was a missionary who accompanied Saint Boniface to Germany in the 8th century.  Several miracles are ascribed to him, including turning icicles into logs of wood to warm a poor family perishing from the cold. [Must've been some pretty large icicles!]  He lived mostly in the area of Nuremberg, quite possibly in a hermitage, and his relics are interred in that city, in a church dedicated to him.

The ancient Romans also sent up prayers today to avert the perils of storm or disease from the ripening crop of grapes, as they celebrated the festival of Vinalia Rustica.

Today would be a good day to raise a glass of a noble vintage.

Artwork: Saint Louis Bishop of Toulouse, Antonio Vivarini, c. 1450, Louvre.