This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 3 -- Feast of Saint Ia (St. Ives)

St. Ia on her leaf
The accounts of this woman vary widely.  She was either Irish or Welsh, lived in either the 5th, 6th, or 8th century, and she died either in Cornwall or Brittany. 

Given all those uncertainties, here's what we can reliably say about her.  She was a princess who intended to sail east with a party of Christians who sought to sail west and propagate the faith.  She got to the shore and found that they had sailed without her, since she was too young to be helpful.  As she stood at the water's edge, a leaf floated over to her.  She touched it with a stick and watched as it grew large enough to carry her across the sea. 

She reached the destination ahead of the others; her vessel was divinely provided and guided, after all.  She founded an oratory on the site of the existing parish church in St. Ives, but was subsequently martyred by the Cornish (Breton?) heathen.  The number 777 factors into a couple of accounts: in one, it is the number of her companions; in the other, it is the year of her martyrdom. 
St. Ia by Faust Lang

The Austian Oak
A Cornish woodcutter named Faust Lang found a piece of Austrian oak floating in the St. Ives Harbor and shaped it into a statue of the leaf-borne saint.  I was a little curious about Austrian oak, so I looked it up.  I discovered two things about it.  The first is that it was a nickname for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his bodybuilding days.  The second, from the Oak page of, speaks for itself: 

"Austrian oak is much softer than English, but its figuring is not so fine, and American oak is easy to work, but its marking is rather uninteresting, being straight and very plain."  Sorry, Arnold. 

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