30 October 2012

30 October - Noah Fills the Ark

And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee: of the male sex, and the female.  Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of every thing that creepeth on the earth according to its kind; two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live. “ Genesis 6:19-20.

According to calculations, on this day Noah was commanded by God to fill the ark with living creatures, male and female, which kept him very busy for the next seven days.

[Unfortunately, when it came to dinosaurs, he picked up two males (rather rough work lifting their tails to see which was what) and so died out the species.  Would that he had done the same with rattlesnakes.]

John Wilkins, a 17th century Church of England bishop, expended a good deal of thought upon the size of the ark, as well as its occupants, and proposed that of the non-human denizens, the quadrupeds did not amount to one hundred different kinds, of which only seventy-two species needed housing in the ark; of the birds, he calculated that, leaving aside ducks and other such web-footed critters who could live on water, less than one hundred and ninety five needed to be aboard.  

[Note to bishop: ducks may be comfortable in water, but they don’t live there 24/7/365. And it would be a year before even the top of a tree was visible.]

Wilkins then went on to determine that 1,825 sheep would be sufficient to feed the carnivores for a year (or roughly five sheep per day) and 109,500 cubits of hay for the omnivores, all of which could be comfortably accommodated on the bottom two decks of the ocean liner, with the birds living above them in one part of Deck 3, and the Noah family living in another part of the same deck.  There was also ample room for their baggage, and seeds and farming tools they would need to start life afresh.

Of course the best thing about the story (besides the Rainbow and the Covenant) was that eventually toymakers invented the toy Noah’s ark, like the one pictured here.  Those who could not afford to buy the sets were encouraged to paste prints of animals (keeping in mind their relative sizes so as not to confuse little minds) to heavy card or thin blocks of wood.  For Christians of a puritanical bent, who frowned on all worldly thoughts, actions, and amusements (especially on the Lord’s Day), the biblical ark was an acceptable pastime for quiet Sunday play, in some instances becoming a toy totally reserved for Sunday alone.  As a wholesome activity, however, this did not go unchallenged; there were those adults (who have a tendency to over-think things) who deplored the idea that children might actually grow up believing that animals from all over the world – bears, kangaroos, alligators, moose, penguins and buffalo among them – were marched into the ark along with the usual cows and sheep.

Thankfully, they’ve always been in the minority; children have continued to march the odd assortments across the table and over the carpet for over two hundred years, and Noah’s Arks are still available today.

28 October 2012

28 October - Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Today we celebrate Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles.  The traditions of the day can be found here.

Simon and Jude is almost certain to be rainy (and that is for certain today for many of us along the East Coast.  There is an unwelcome and very messy visitor named Sandy on her way)

There is oft times a tempest on St. Jude.  (Well, this time it is the beginnings of a tempest)

Winter comes on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude.

If it doesn’t rain on SS. Simon and Jude, it won’t rain until Saint Cecilia’s day (Nov 22)  (That’s knocked right out.  Stand by for le deluge.  We should get enough to last us until St. Cecilia)


And this being the fourth Sunday in October, it is Mother-in-Law Day.

27 October 2012

Hallowe'en Costumes

So your parents want you to go to an All Saints party instead of a Hallowe’en party – or at least dress up as a saint when you go out trick-or-treating – and you think this is incredibly boring, right?

Fear not, children.  Have you read a martyrology lately?  Do you know how a goodly number of our heroes and heroines of the Faith died or what their attributes are in artistic depictions?  If you think no costume is complete without blood and gore and innards showing, dress up as one of these saints:

Saint Denis
A lot of saints were decapitated.  Some, like Saint Denis, are depicted carrying their heads.  If you were really looking forward to being the Headless Horseman or the Headless Zombie or whatever is in vogue these days (Mrs. Rudd does not keep up with such things), make a few changes to your costume, put a bishop’s miter on your ‘head’ – complete with blood on the neck; there were no unbloody beheadings – and voila!  Saint Denis.

This also works for Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, if you have a hankering to look like something from “The Tudors”.  And if you can’t manage the totally headless look, use makeup to make a slash around your neck, complete with dripping blood.

Saint Erasmus
Even better is going as Saint Erasmus.  He was martyred by having his intestines wound around a windlass.  Find or make a long appendage which looks like intestines (large or small or both) and attach them to a hole in your costume somewhere near your belly button (add a nice amount of blood as well.  There were no unbloody eviscerations).  If the intestines are long enough, you can throw them over your shoulders and around your neck like a stole.  Erasmus was also a bishop, so make yourself a miter (and in spite of the picture here, don’t go out in your underwear.)

Saint Peter Martyr
If you can find or make one of those headpieces sometimes called “Splitting Headache” (a sword or an ax through the head), you can dress as the Dominican Saint Peter Martyr.  White tunic, black cloak or cowl, lots of blood dripping from the top of the head, and maybe a bit of brain slipping out.

(Assuming here that you know how to make a simple tunic – an old sheet or length of cloth, fold over widthwise, cut it into a ‘T’ shape, sew the sides and sleeves (leaving the openings for your arms, of course), cut a hole at the top for your head to fit through, hem as needed.)

Saint Lawrence
Saint Lawrence of Rome was barbecued.  Highly unlikely that he was wearing clothes at the time, but that might be a little chilly for Hallowe’en, so get togged up in a toga or tunic, paint grill lines fore and aft for that charbroiled look (not forgetting your face), and if you can find make-up that looks like burned skin, so much the better.

Young ladies who want to look reasonably elegant while still producing an ick factor can go as Saint Agnes, Saint Catherine, etc.  A tunic and a wide piece of cloth worn as a stole will work here.

Saint Agnes
The young girl Saint Agnes was beheaded (although she didn’t walk around with it like Saint Denis).  Create a slashed neck with blood drips, and carry a stuffed lamb. 

Or wear a lot of green and maybe a shamrock or two (to give people a hint), to portray the Irish (and headless) Saint Dymphna.  She was the daughter of a king, so a crown with shamrocks might do the trick.

Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine of Alexandria was also beheaded, so the same costume (in rich cloth) and slashed neck works for her.  As a patron of philosophers, she carries a book; as a noble woman, she wears a diadem.  Carry her attribute – a small Catherine Wheel (a spiked wheel) – or attach it to your headpiece.

(Those with Renaissance Faire costumes can go as Blessed Margaret Plantagenet Pole.  Don’t be surprised if everyone thinks you’re Anne Boleyn and wonders when she was canonized.)

Saint Apollonia
For Saint Apollonia (who was tortured by having her teeth broken and yanked out – no anesthetic), buy (or carve from Styrofoam) a large tooth shape, and attach it to a pair of pliers.  Blacken the rest of your teeth, and have gobbets of blood dripping out of your mouth and down your chin.

Saint Lucy
The noble lady Saint Lucy carries around her eyeballs.  Tradition is not sure if she was tortured by having her eyes plucked out, or whether she did it herself to make a suitor stop pestering her.  Tradition says that her eyeballs grew back in any case.  Anyway, she was a beautiful woman, and was eventually killed by a sword or dagger thrust to the throat.  Paint on a small neck gash (can you attach what looks like a dagger to your throat?), have blood dripping down your cheeks from your eyes, and either buy or make a couple of eyeballs which you can attach to a small plate.  If you really want to make young kids consider you with awe, make your eyeballs from peanut butter balls dipped in melted white chocolate; use decorating gel to make the iris and a small chocolate chip for the pupil.  Then when you get tired of carting around your eyes, eat them in front of others.  Vanilla wafer cookies covered with white icing and decorated also works.

That is all that your hostess can think of right now [there is one of those messy and unwelcome visitors named Sandy on her way, and Mrs. Rudd is battening down hatches], but if you check out a martyrology or a book of saints, you can get ideas of your own. 

(Of course, your parents may require you to recite the life and death of your saint before you leave the house.  Be prepared.)

16 October 2012

16 October - Saint Gall

Weather – If it is fine on St. Gall's day, it will be fine up to Christmas.
On St. Gall’s day, expect a late summer (Indian summer).
A dry St. Gall’s day betokens a dry summer.
After St. Gall, keep your cow in the stall


At Arbon, in Switzerland, St. Gall, abbot, disciple of blessed Columban.

Gall, or Gallus (c550 – c645), an Irish missionary trained in the school of St. Comgall in Bangor, accompanied St. Columbanus on his journey to the continent, stopping first in the dominions of Burgundy where they worked for the next twenty years and established three foundations, including that of Luxeuil.  The enmity of Queen Brunhild of Burgundy sent Columbanus into exile, and several of his monks, Gallus among them, elected to stay with him.  In an effort to skirt Burgundian lands and reach Italy, they made the long, arduous journey up the Rhine into Switzerland.  

Halting for a time at Lake Constance, they preached and evangelized, sometimes a little violently.  Here they burned places of idolatrous worship and tossed the offerings into the lake.  Finding a large vat full of beer that had been dedicated to the chief god, Columbanus cracked the vat and let all the beer flow away [a story which strikes the Widow to the heart].  As you might imagine, this was not very popular, and a plot was formed to kill Gallus and flog Columbanus.  Fortunately for them, the planned action did not succeed.  Columbanus cleansed the pagan temple near Bregenz and dedicated it as a church, with a monastery attached, where he and his missionaries lived and preached.  Gallus, among his other duties, was assigned the occupation of making nets and fishing.

In 612, Columbanus and most of his companions moved on to Milan, possibly because the fratricidal wars of the Frankish kings and the temporary success of the Burgundians made staying in Bregenz dangerous to him.  Gallus, who was suffering from a fever, stayed behind and resided with a priest friend in nearby Arbon, who cared for him until he was fully recovered.  Thereafter, he decided to retire to a solitary place and devote himself to the conversion of the pagan tribes inhabiting the area.  With help from his friend (or because he fell into a thorn bush and considered it a sign from heaven), he found a spot there in the forests to the southwest of Arbon near the River Steinach, where he built a small oratory and small cells for himself and twelve companions who had followed him, and who he trained assiduously to evangelize the surrounding population.

Renowned for his superior knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, his wisdom, humility, charity towards the poor, and singular sanctity, he was the first choice of the people when the see of Constance became vacant.  Wishing not to be involved in the cares of this world, he refused, instead suggesting one of his own disciples as a more suitable candidate, being a native of the area.  This man was accepted and consecrated as bishop, with Gallus preaching the sermon.  Thereafter, he advised and counseled the bishop for many years.

Some ten years later, the monks of his old home at the monastery of Luxeuil wished to elect him as their superior, but again, he stressed his desire for solitude, and refused to leave his chosen retreat.

He is said to have died at the age of 95 years on a visit to his friend in Arbon, and was buried in his hermitage where a small church was erected under his patronage.  This developed through time into the great Abbey of Saint Gall and the town of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

“That he was an assiduous preacher of the Gospel is well known; and his exertions both in that line, and in forming disciples capable of instructing the people, were such that he has been called the apostle of Switzerland.”

Statue of Saint Gall.  The bear accompanying him comes from a story that when the saint and his companions searched through the woods below Arbon for a suitable place of retreat, Gallus commanded the bear to fetch wood for their evening fire.  Another story says that the bear carried the wood used to build the little oratory.

11 October 2012

11 October - Saint Gomer

At Lier, in Belgium, the departure from this life of St. Gummarus, confessor.

Well, golll-eee!

I’ll bet you thought ‘Gomer’ was one of those silly Southern names found only in Deliverance country.  ‘T’aint so.  Saint Gomer (Gummer, Gummarus, Gomar, Gommaire) lived in Brabant (now Antwerp in modern Belgium) in the 8th century, and unlike his namesake, was a highly intelligent and trusted court official.

[Speaking of Southern names, there is also a Saint Elvis, and no, he didn’t live in Graceland, nor is there any record of saintly pelvic gyrations]

Gomer was born around 717, the scion of a wealthy and noble family related to Pepin the Short, Mayor of the Palace of Neustrasia.  His education was that of a future knight and courtier rather than that of a future cleric, but a thorough grounding in the practice of piety kept him from succumbing to more worldly amusements.  As a young man, he was called to Pepin’s court, where his humility and dutiful conduct raised him in the estimation of his superiors.

According to Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints:  “The saint preserved there his innocence: from a spirit of religion he was punctual and faithful in every duty of his station, and an enemy to vanity, ambition, and dissimulation, (which is almost the soul of a court life,) also to pleasure, luxury and passion: he was rigorous in his fasts and other mortifications, exact and fervent in all his exercises of devotion, and most beneficent and liberal in works of mercy.  It was his study, as much as possible, never to give the least trouble or do the least prejudice to any one, and to serve and do good, as much as lay in his power to all men.”

[Gomer probably wasn’t as dull as that sounds]

“Pepin, though tainted with ambition, was a lover of uprightness and virtue: and being acquainted with the probity and piety of Gummar, raised him to the highest posts in his court.”   And here began Gomer’s troubles.  Among the many honors was “a match between him and a lady of great birth and fortune named Gwinmary, in Latin Grimnaria” [Grim for short; Lady Grim to her servants].  And grim their married life certainly was, for “Gwinmary was most extravagant and perverse in her humour; haughty, whimsical, and altogether ungovernable.”

Maybe she was bipolar.  Maybe she was a shrew.  Maybe she had anger management issues.  On the other hand, maybe not.  It can’t be too easy being married to a saint.  She might have been a party-girl, while he, as “an enemy to pleasure, luxury, and passion”, preferred his fasts and exercises of devotion, and expected his wife to join him.  She might have been pushing for his further advancement (and her own – wives have their own hierarchy), while he, as “an enemy to vanity, ambition, and dissimulation”, preferred to leave the courtier’s life behind and retire to his own modest estates many miles distant from court.  Instead of gaiety and brilliance and a high position as the wife of one of the top men, she is reduced to the quiet life of a minor castle chatelaine.  Maybe she felt cheated.

According to the story, she made his life miserable, while he endeavored “by all means which Christian prudence and charity could suggest, to inspire his wife with sentiments agreeable to reason and religion.”

Whatever means he used, they didn’t work.  She was not so inspired by the time he was called to join Pepin (now King of France) in putting down rebellions and enlarging the kingdom.  During his eight-year absence, she took out her frustrations on her husband’s vassals and dependents, few of which escaped her unjust oppressions, and “threw all things into the utmost disorder and confusion.”

As a just man, Gomer made recompense for his wife’s actions where he could.

Eight years of separation hadn’t mitigated her issues, whatever they were.  Life went on as before, and I’m sure Gomer often thought longingly of happy days battling Lombards, Saxons, and Aquitainians.  To get away from the constant harangue, he built what might be considered one of the first Man Caves – a little chapel called Nivesdonck, where he could practice his devotions in peace.

For a time it seemed that his patience and virtue had converted his wife, but it didn’t last “and her furious passions, which were only smothered for a time, not healed, broke out again with greater rage than ever.”  In his late 50’s, Gomer embraced a solitary penitential life (with his wife’s permission) and lived for the next nine years in a little cell attached to his chapel.  His perseverance seems finally to have overcome his wife’s contumacious behavior (either that or she was no longer subject to PMS), and she ended her days as “a remarkable penitent.”  He died in 774; there is no mention of when she departed this earthly sphere.

As you might guess, he is a patron of unhappy and difficult marriages, and of marital separations.

His legend relates that on one of his travels, he cut down a tree to serve as a pillow (saints have odd ideas of comfort), which made the owner of the tree very unhappy (saints also have odd ideas of ownership).  Gomer replanted the tree and reattached the trimmed branches, and the tree’s owner was happy again.  This is said to be the reason he is the patron of woodcutters (hopefully of woodcutters who don’t cut down other people’s trees).

His magnificent shrine at Lier claimed miraculous cures for sufferers from hernia, and many have flocked there to invoke his aid.

“As God does everything for his elect, and the government of the universe is subordinate to the predestination of his saints, so this affair, which seemed unhappy in the eyes of the world was directed by Him to perfect the virtue of His servant, and exalt him to the glory of the saints.”

Gomer certainly put it on the paten.

Artwork: Holy Card of Saint Gommaar, swiped from Wikipedia. You can see the replaced tree in the background; the spring of water at the saint's feet was miraculously provided for the estate fieldworkers when Lady Grim refused them any liquid refreshment after their labors.

05 October 2012

5 October - An Immense Sea-Serpent

This is Saint Faith's Eve, and those ladies looking to dream of future husbands may find the formula and instructions here, before slipping into the arms of Morpheus.


Remember all those medieval and renaissance maps of TERRA INCOGNITA with wonderful aquatic creatures entered on the perimeters and the words, “Here Be Dragons”?  Well, one of the dragons incognita is named Nellie.

On 5 October 1817, a large marine creature was sighted for the second time in Long Island Sound, the first sighting having been two days previous.  After comparing notes with witnesses in Massachusetts, the general consensus was that the creature was a ‘Sea Serpent’.

Prior to 1815, there were few reports of Nessie’s sea-going American cousin, (christened ‘Nellie’, according to Robert Cahill’s book “New England’s Marvelous Monsters”) but in that year, it was spotted twice near Plymouth in Cape Cod Bay.  After another year’s hiatus, it then surfaced repeatedly during the month of August 1817 in the harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, with occasional side trips to nearby Cape Ann harbor, and was attested to by 28 individual witnesses, along with the crews of several fishing and commercial vessels.  By October, it seems that Nellie – or one of its kin – had moved south (like a lot of New Englanders), being seen twice in Long Island Sound before disappearing for the winter.  In succeeding years, it would again be seen in Massachusetts waters during the summer months.

(In 1886, the editor of the Warren (RI) Gazette suggested that the current sighting was due to the fact that Massachusetts had not got Prohibition.)

Of the sighting on October 5, 1817, Judge Thomas Hertell wrote:
“On Sunday, the 5th inst. at 10 o’clock A.M. while standing a few rods from my house on Rye-Neck, I observed at a small distance to the southward and east ward of Mr. Ezekiel Halsted’s dwelling on Rye Point, and perhaps not more than a half mile from the shore, a long, rough, dark looking body, progressing rapidly up sound (towards New York) against a brisk breeze, and a strong ebb tide.  Viewing it with my glass convinced me it was a large living animal. – His back, forty to fifty feet of which was seen above the surface of the water, appeared to be irregular, uneven, and deeply indented.  I did not at this time remark that his head was more elevated above the water than the ridges or humps on his back.  Some trees standing near the water, Rye Point soon intercepting my view of him, I hastened to a situation from which I obtained another sight of him as he passed that part of the sound opposite Hempstead bay.  At this time he appeared to be nearly in the middle of the sound – his body more depressed below and his head more elevated above the water, going with increased velocity in the direction of Sand’s point, creating a swell before him not unlike that made by a boat towed rapidly at the stern of the vessel.  From the time I first saw him till I lost sight of him, perhaps could not have exceeded ten minutes, in which short time he had gone probably not less than six or seven miles.”

“I was yesterday informed on creditable authority, that on the day on which I saw the above mentioned animal, he was seen by some persons at or in the vicinity of the light house on Sand’s Point.”

“That is was a sea animal of great bulk, to me is certain. – That it is what is usually called a Sea-Serpent, and the same which appeared in Gloucester harbor, is only probable.”

Representatives of the newspapers had swarmed over Gloucester in August; now they duly reported on the monster’s movements south.  Niles’ Register wrote: “The sea serpent that lately visited Gloucester &c. about which so much has been said in the news papers, is supposed to have been in Long Island sound, on the 5th ul:  – moving rapidly, at the rate of a mile in a minute, and shewing what was thought to be from 40 to 50 feet of his back above water.  We have seen a colored print which is said to be a correct representation of this animal: it is truly terrific.” Niles’ Register, November 1, 1817, p. 160.

The same paper at the end of the month added this exciting tidbit: “ A sea serpent has been seen in Long Island Sound.  The wild fowl are said to have appeared much alarmed by the visitor, flying in every direction as he approached them.  And a letter from a passenger on board the ship “Cotton Plant” from New York to Savannah, to a gentleman in that city dated “Savannah, 12th Nov. 1817, says – “P.S. I forgot to mention for the information of S.L. that, while lying to in latitude 33,15, there was a great substance passed us through the water, the head of which was elevated some 40 or 50 feet, supposed to be the big serpent, which supposition was confirmed, as we were soon surrounded by a school of long fish, which we made out to be his spawn!...” Niles’ Register, November 29, 1817, p. 223.

The stamp of authenticity was given by the Hon. David Humphries, a Fellow of the Royal Society when he wrote to Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Society, on November 5th 1817, that he had gone to the town of Rye to satisfy himself as to the truth or falsehood of the rumors, and came away convinced that “rumor was founded on undeniable fact.”  After paying tribute to the “moral and intelligent” characters of the witnesses James Guion and Thomas Hertell, he transcribed their statements – that Mr. Guion, a Mamaroneck merchant, had seen at a small distance from the rocks called the Scotch Caps, “an animated body (of which fifty feet was visible) moving with great rapidity on the surface of the water” at a speed of about a mile a minute.  Two days later, Judge Hertell saw in the water “a huge, dark-looking, deeply indented substance” which he first thought was a mast or a long piece of timber, until he noticed the speed with which the substance was making headway against the tide. The subsequent description is much the same as that in Hertell’s letter.  Based on his observations in New York and his previous visits to Massachusetts, Humphries ends his letter suggesting that vessels be armed for making a surprise attack on the monster, not only in the interests of science, but “should the offspring of this uninvited visitor infest our coasts, great mischief might, in reality, result from the exposure of our unarmed fishermen to new alarms and dangers…”

Kill it, because it might – just might – at some future, uncertain point, become a problem.  That’s our answer to everything.

What I’d like to know is where the aquatic creature spent September of that year.  August in Massachusetts, October in Long Island Sound.  Could it have enjoyed the beauties of Narragansett Bay in between?  The Smallest State didn’t have Prohibition in 1817, so anything’s possible.

“American Sea Serpent” from Monsters of the Deep and Curiosities of Ocean Life by Armand Landrin, (1875) p. 138.

“Nellie off Cape Ann, 1638”.  Swiped from Wikipedia.

“Taken in life as appeared in Gloucester Harbor, August 23, 1817” aka “Nellie in Armor”  Swiped from Wikipedia. (Gloucester sea serpent)

My own favorite sea-serpent, Cecil, and his pal Beany.

01 October 2012


“Then came October, full of merry glee,
For yet his noule was totty of the must,
Which he was treading, in the wine-fat’s see,
And of the joyous oil, whose gentle gust
Made him so frolic, and so full of lust:
Upon a dreadful scorpion he did ride,
The same which by Diana’s doom unjust
Slew great Orion; and eke by his side
He had his ploughing-share, and coulter ready tide.”

"This month was so named because it was the eighth month in the primitive Roman calendar ascribed to Romulus.  It became the tenth month in the calendar as revised by Numa, who added January and February, but it retained its original name, the more readily, perhaps, because it once more became the tenth month when the year commenced, as it did in early Christendom, with March.  Julius Caesar in his revision of the calendar gave it thirty days, which number was changed to thirty-one by Augustus.  As was the ease with September, many Roman Emperors sought to change its name in their own honor.  It was successively Germanicus, Antoninus, Tacitus, and Herculeus, the latter a surname of the Emperor Commodus.  But none of these names clung.  The Roman Senate had no better luck when they renamed it Faustinus, in honor of Faustina, wife of Antoninus.

The Anglo-Saxons called October Winterfylleth, a name which indicated that winter approached with the full moon of the month.  In old almanacs the sport of hawking is adopted as emblematical of this which was accounted the last month of autumn."  William Shepard Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 762 (1898).

Astronomy for October: 
The full moon this month, on the 29th, is the Hunter's Moon.  As farmers could bring in their crops into the evening hours with the aid of the Harvest Moon last month, so hunters are given extra hours to fill their game bags this month.

Two meteor showers this month:
The Draconids, which peak this year on the 7th and 8th.  The moon will be in its last quarter (a half moon) and won’t rise until after midnight, so viewing these falling stars around nightfall should be easy. If it isn’t too cold, I like to fire up the grill for a last barbecue and enjoy the show (well bundled-up, of course), even if there isn’t much of a show.

The Orionids return around the 21st . The first quarter moon sets before midnight, so if you can get out of your warm bed in the wee (and very chilly) hours before dawn, you’ll be able to view this shower with no problem.

Novenas for October
Saint Francis of Assisi            continues from 25 September
Saint Faustina Kowalska        continues from 26 September
Our Lady of the Rosary          continues from 28 September
Our Lady of Good Remedy    continues from 29 September
Saint Gerard Majella              begins on 7 October
The Canadian Martyrs            begins on 10 October
Saint Raphael, Archangel       begins 15 October
Saint Anthony Mary Claret    begins 15 October
Saint Jude                               begins 19 October
Holy Souls                              begins 24 October
Saint Martin de Porres            begins 25 October

Since October is Respect Life Month, consider praying these novenas:
Of course, at the rate we are going maybe we should try the novena for impossible requests.
A good October and a good blast,
To blow the hog acorn and mast.

Weather for October

Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Mostly cloudy and very, very cold.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Sunny with a slight chill in the air.
Based on the Ember Days: A gloriously beautiful day!  Bright sun, cool temperatures, invigorating!

Weather Lore for October

There are always nineteen fine days in October [Optimists and those who stretch the definition of 'fine' say twenty-one days].

If October is warm and fine, a sharp winter can be expected.

If the latter end of October and the beginning of November be for the most part warm and rainy, then January and February are likely to be frosty and cold. [Likely? LIKELY? Trust me, January and February will be frosty and cold, no matter what.]

                       on the other hand

If October and November are cold, then the following January and February will be mild and dry.

A warm October, a cold February (and vice versa).

As the weather in October, so will it be the next March.

Much rain in October, much wind in December.

Thunder in October signifies great winds and a dearth of corn.

If there is thunder in October expect uncertain and changeable weather during the winter.

For every fog in October, there will be a snow in winter; heavy or light accordingly, as the fog is heavy or light.

Full moon in October without frost, no frost until the full moon in November.

If October brings heavy frosts and winds, then will January and February be mild.

Much frost and snow in October betokens mild weather in winter.

If it freezes and snows in October, January will bring mild weather, but if instead there is thunder and lightning, the weather of January will be as changeable as April.

If the first snow falls on moist, soft earth, it indicates a small harvest in the following year, but if it falls on hard, frozen ground, there will be a plentiful harvest.

If, during the fall of leaves in October, many of them wither on the boughs and hang there, it betokens a frosty winter and much snow.

Ice in October that will bear up a duck, foretells a winter as wet as muck.

When birds and badgers are fat in October, expect a cold winter.

If the deer’s coat is gray in October, there will be a severe winter.

10/1 – On the feast of Saint Mary, expect the first frosts (this is from Russia, but some of us in the western hemisphere can expect the first frosts about now as well)

10/2 – If the leaves fall upon Saint Leodegarius Day, then will the next year be productive.

10/9 - A hard winter follows a fine St. Denis.

          Where the wind lies on St. Denis, there it will rest for three quarters of the year.

10/14 - If St. Calixtus' day be dry and windy, the winter will be wet, but if it be rainy and still, the harvest will be good.

10/16 - If it is fine on St. Gall's day, it will be fine up to Christmas.

            On St. Gall’s day, expect a late summer (Indian summer)

            A dry St. Gall’s day betokens a dry summer.

10/18 - St. Luke's Little Summer.  In northern Italy, it is called Saint Teresa’s summer, as it falls near the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila (October 15).  In Germany, for the same reason, it is called the summer of Saint Gall (October 16); in Sweden, Saint Bridget’s summer (October 8), and in France, the summer of Saint Denis (October 9).

            On St. Luke’s day, the thunder goes away.

10/21 – St. Ursula brings in winter (or at least the preliminary chills)

10/28 - St. Simon and St. Jude, almost certain to be rainy.

            There is oft times a tempest on St. Jude.

            Winter comes on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude.

             If it doesn’t rain on SS. Simon and Jude, it won’t rain until Saint Cecilia’s day (Nov 22)

 10/31 – Where the wind rises on the eve of All Saints, there it will rise for three quarters of the year following.

October - Hawking
Farming and Gardening for October:

Dry your barley in October,
Or you'll always be sober.  [Barley being necessary for malt, and malt being necessary for beer and whiskey, not paying attention to this admonition could mean a year spent drinking water]

In October, dung your field,
And your land its wealth shall yield.

If the first snow falls on moist, soft earth, it indicates a small harvest next year; but if upon hard, frozen soil, expect a good harvest.

10/16 – After St. Gall, keep your cow in the stall.

The 1817 Almanac advises the farmer to "Transplant your brown Dutch and common Lettuces upon warm Borders, to abide the Winter; sow all Sort of Sallad Herbs upon decayed Hot Beds, such as Lettuce, Cresses, Radish, Mustard, and Spinach.  Earth up Celery, Chardoons, and the Stems of Broccoli Plants to protect them from the Frost."

"Make Plantations of the Suckers of Gooseberries, Currants, and Raspberries.  Cut Artichokes with long Stalks, which you may preserve in the House, by setting them in Sand."

"Continue to sow Wheat, set up your Barley Land, sow Masts for Coppices or Hedge-Rows; plant Quicksets and plash Hedges; and plant all Sorts of Forest-Trees that shed their Leaves."

Cassell’s Illustrated Almanac 1871 for October
Flowers — Clear away all unnecessary growth from the garden, potting all plants requiring protection, and getting the ground generally clear, that it may be turned well over before the winter sets in. The exposure of the soil to the depth of a spade or more, in the frost or snow of winter, will purify the ground and make it productive.

Vegetables — Autumn-sown lettuce and cabbage will now require transplanting. Take up carrots and parsnips when the tops have turned yellow; and continue to earth up celery and to dig potatoes. Turn over all vacant spaces, and prepare for the next crops.

Fruit — Currant and gooseberry bushes may now be transplanted, and they should be carefully pruned, all cross branches being cut away. If propagation is desired, lay some of the strongest shoots. Put a coating of lime round about the stems, to protect the bushes from caterpillars.

Health Advice for October:
"Avoid being out late at Nights, or in foggy Weather; for a Cold now got may continue the whole Winter."

October. Engraving by Samuel Williams. William Hone, The Everyday Book and Table Book, (1838), p. 1346

Hawking. Engraving based on an 11th century manuscript. William Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs (1898), p. 762