05 October 2011

5 October - Saint Faith's Eve

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Faith (aka Saint Fides, Sainte Foy, Santa Fe), Virgin and Martyr,  a young woman of 3rd century Aquitaine in southern France who was martyred by being burned to death on an iron bed placed over a flame pit (much like St. Lawrence).  She was a very popular saint in the Middle Ages, known for the many miracles at her shrine.

The night before her feast - or in some places her feast day - was a time for divination; in this case, to dream of a future husband.  This required a Dumb-cake.

Dumb-cakes were utilized on other eves - St. Agnes,  St. Mark, St. John, All Hallows - but the ingredients tended to change, as did the personnel involved.  For Saint Faith's Eve/Day, a party of three unmarried women or three widows performed the ritual [a mixed bag is not mentioned, so I would stand pat with three-of-a-kind].

So for this charm you will need two friends, the ingredients listed below, a griddle [the original charm calls for a dutch oven - probably a very shallow dutch oven], and a wedding ring borrowed from a woman who has been married at least seven years - a happily married woman being more efficacious.

The Dumb-cake for Saint Faith's is made of spring water, flour, sugar, and salt [the amounts of each being up to you, but I'd probably use 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 tablespoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water].  Each woman must share in the making of the cake [mixing, stirring, pouring it onto the griddle] and while the cake bakes on the griddle, each woman must turn it three times, for a total of nine times [and it should be mentioned here, that the cake resembles a pancake rather than a layer cake].  Once finished, it is cut into three strips, and each strip is passed through the borrowed wedding ring. Another version of the charm says that the cake is cut into three strips, and then each strip is cut into nine pieces, and THEN each of 27 pieces is passed through the wedding ring.

Then, each woman eats one of the three strips, or the nine pieces it was cut into, as she undresses for bed, saying softly,

O good Saint Faith, be kind tonight
And bring to me my heart's delight;
Let me my future husband view,
And be my vision chaste and true.

The wedding ring is now tied to the head of the bed, all three women climb in and dispose themselves for sleep, and hopefully they will dream of their future husbands.

The most important thing to remember is that all of this - start to finish - must be done in TOTAL SILENCE [except for the charm, I'm assuming].

Three girls silent?  I should hope to see this.  Oh, and good luck asking your mother if you can borrow her wedding ring 'in a good cause'.