22 January 2012

22 January - Saint Vincent

Weather:  If the sun shines brightly on Vincent's Day, we shall have more wine than water (i.e. optimum growing conditions for the vineyards this year).

If the sun shines on St. Vincent, there shall be much wind. [I’ve also seen it written as “much wine”, which goes along with the prognostication above, and which I find preferable.  However, see below for a desire for wind]

To predict the harvest in the coming season, light a torch (a real torch, not a flashlight) and carry it to a high hill.  If the flame is extinguished in the wind, crops will be abundant; if the torch burns in spite of the wind, the season will be bad.

Remember, on St. Vincent’s Day
If that the sun his beams display,
Be sure to mark the transient beam
Which through the casement sheds a gleam;
For ‘tis a token bright and clear
Of prosperous weather all the year.

So let us hope for lots of sun, and enough wind to extinguish a torch!

“AT Valencia, in Spain, while the wicked Dacian was governor, St. Vincent, deacon and martyr, who, after suffering imprisonment, hunger, the torture, the disjointing of his limbs; after being burned with plates of heated metal and on the gridiron, and tormented in other ways, took his flight to heaven, there to receive the reward of martyrdom.  His noble triumph over his sufferings has been elegantly set forth in verse by Prudentious, and highly eulogized by St. Augustine and pope St. Leo.”

Hours of Catherine of Cleves
Today is the feast of Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (d. 304). A native of Huesca and a deacon in Saragossa, he was martyred in Valencia in the persecutions of the governor, Dacian.  Having loudly proclaimed both his faith and the governor’s perfidy in the court, strengthening and comforting his fellow Christians, he was condemned to be tortured as an example to the rest.   The Golden Legend describes these tortures - his limbs pulled from their sockets on the rack, his flesh torn with iron combs and burned with iron plates, his body left to lie on the prison floor which had been strewn with broken potsherds.

Horrible tortures not working, the governor tried the opposite approach, thinking that comfort and luxury would make the young man submit. This failed as well.  No sooner was Vincent’s torn and burned body laid on a rose-strewn feather bed, than he yielded his spirit to God and was borne by the angels to his heavenly reward.

He is the patron saint of Lisbon (Portugal), Zaragoza and Valencia (Spain), Milan and Vicenza (Italy), and the islands of Sao Vicente (Cape Verde) and St. Vincent (Caribbean).

He is also the patron saint of vine growers and dressers, vintners, and vinegar makers, probably from a pun on his name.  Winemakers and wine-growing regions have celebrations in his honor, like this one in Normandy

Wine is very definitely on the menu today.  And perhaps something from one of the countries listed above.  Zaragoza is in the Aragon region of Spain, and a lovely dish (especially on a day in winter) found there is a meat-and bell-pepper-stew called Chilindron, for which you can find several recipes online.  This one is easy, this one has mucho paprika, and this one will send you to your nearest Spanish food store.

¡Buen apetito!