I think it’s great Saint Patrick has an entire day named for him. Saints Valentine and Nick hold that honor as well. They have annual celebrations with greeting cards, festivities, and, throughout my youth, construction paper cutouts of shamrocks, hearts, and candy canes. But, what about the countless other saints? Shouldn’t they have a day of their own?
According to “Saints 101,” there are 810 canonized saints, while some lists show thousands more. Certainly, there must be others of great virtue among them, those who also have performed legendary deeds like Saint Patrick. Although the snake-banishing skills make him the ideal camping partner, his true miracle lies elsewhere. Patrick, himself, wrote that he raised people from the dead. So, surely, he deserves a day, but who else should join him?
I suggest Saint Brigid should get a holiday. Similar to Patrick, she’s a Patron Saint of Ireland. Her miracle was turning a tub of bathwater into beer. Heck with a day! She should get an entire week! Perhaps to honor her miracle ale, a local brewery could take up the cause and made some suds in her honor. A Brigid’s Bathtub Brew one could dye green on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Then there’s Saint Juthwara. If anyone deserves a day, it is she, a sixth-century British martyr who wore cheese on her chest. Yes, that is correct. It was soft cheese, which I imagine is easier to wear, but, granted, stinkier. Before you go out to buy some brie, you should know Juthwara’s legend gets better, or more accurately, a whole lot worse. Many a saint went through tribulations that make “Game of Thrones” look like “Captain Kangaroo.” Dear Juthwara was beheaded, whereupon she picked up her noggin and carried it back to church. Mind you, all while wearing cheese! I mean, people, what does one need to do to get a day?
Granted, there are saints that might not deserve a day. Like Saint Henry, whose claim to fame was choosing to be a hermit rather than marry. That dubious qualification would make my cousin Doug a saint. Or Saint Cuthman, who was also a hermit, which is apparently a big deal in the saint world. Cuthman’s claim to sainthood was that he took his mother everywhere in a wheelbarrow. On second thought, maybe my cousin is a saint.
Then there are the saints who are in the Jeopardy category, “Saints and Animals.” Admittedly, I made this up, but I believe one day Alex Trebek himself will be reading these answers. For those of you practicing to be on the show, you’re welcome.
First, there’s Saint Gall, whose pet bear and traveling companion helped out by putting wood on the fire. Pretty handy considering I can’t even get my dog to fetch my slippers. Then, there’s Saint Roch who was miraculously healed from the plague when a dog licked the infection on his leg. If you ask me, that dog’s the saint.
Let’s not forget Saint Anthony Abbot. He was accompanied by a pig whose illness he cured. Big surprise, Anthony was also a hermit, a legendary one, whose story includes decades of isolation. Imagine the pressure on that pig to keep the conversation going.
Beyond the wack-a-doodle mythology, many of these saints suffered a harsh reality from persecution to murder. While I’m aware of All Saints Day, I reject its basic premise to honor “all the saints, known and unknown” on that one day. For thousands of saints, it’s a tad skimpy on the recognition, don’t you think? It’d be akin to hosting one annual birthday party for our entire family tree. Wait, maybe I’m onto something! What if we celebrated one All Family Day a year? That way, we’ll never forget anyone’s birthday – from siblings to cousins – and have one big birthday party for everyone. I’ll have to let Doug know; it’ll save a ton of miles on his wheelbarrow.
Carole Vasta Folley is a Vermont award-winning playwright and columnist. Contact her at carolevf.com.