Thursday, December 1, 2011
December 1 -- Feast of Saint Botulph of Ikanhoe
Now a few words about the saint himself. Botulph, a seventh century Saxon from an aristocratic family, decided to become a Benedictine monk. He was offered a nice spot on the family estate for the monastery he was founding, but chose a spot of ragged heath that was avoided by travelers instead. As if the hazards from bandits were not sufficient, the site was said to be haunted by demons. Botulph was said to have chosen the spot because battling demons would keep the brothers very busy and Benedictines love hard work.
The monastery flourished in spite of bandits and demons. In fact, their success demonstrated the safety of the place, and the brothers' hard work transformed many acres of wetlands into farmland and pasture. Soon lots of the good folks of Lincolnshire were singing "Botulph's Town, you're my home." They tried to make the rhythm better with Botulphston, but finally settled on Boston. And since they were farming on swampland, the line about loving "that dirty water" seemed to fit too.
The truth is somewhat less than the legend. Ikanhoe is some distance from Boston, Lincolnshire. Nonetheless, Saint Botulph (rightly or wrongly) is the patron of both Bostons (Lincolnshire and Massachusetts). Churches were also dedicated to him throughout England, especially those at city gates, since he is enlisted to protect travelers from thieves. In Massachusetts, his feast in June is an excuse for pub crawls (as if the Bostonians need an excuse).
Finally, a shout of to Saint Grwst. I have no idea how to pronounce his name, but he was obviously Welsh. Something a Welshman never says: "Alex, I'd like to buy a vowel." Scots never say that either, but for different reasons.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM