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, July 31, 2012

July 31 -- Feast of Saint Neot

Fisherman have many saints, including of course the Apostles Peter and Andrew.  Fish, however, have Saint Neot as their patron. 

Neot's Well, where St. King Alfred rested
Neot's an historically credible person, a monk of Glastonbury.  He seems to have had a good rapport with King Alfred the Great, or at least good enough that he could admonish the king for his behavior and that Alfred would make a retreat to Neot's grave sometime after the saint's death. 

One story says that he was in the military before he became discouraged and entered the monastery.  Others say that he was unusually short.  That's okay -- short people can be very effective soldiers, but the stories differ on how short he was.  Those which claim he was no more than four feet are plausible, but the version that says he was fifteen inches is tough to accept.  Nonetheless, in more than one spot he's called the Pygmy Saint.

That's one tiny monk and two big stags
Part of Neot's legend involves that pastime so honored throughout the Isles, cattle-rustling.  It seems that some rustlers took the monastery's oxen just as the planting season opened.  The ground was unplowed and most monks were afraid they'd have a lethally small harvest.  Neot prayed for assistance; wild stags left the forest to take up the oxen's yoke.  Every night they'd return to the forest, but every morning they'd be back at the yoke.  Word got around and the rustlers started thinking about divine intervention.  They brought the oxen back and promised to sin no more.  (Good thinking.)   The stags stopped coming, but ever after bore bands of white in their fur where the yoke had been.  This marked them as blessed deer whom no arrow could harm. 

Another story has him sheltering a doe which had been exhausted from the hunt.  The dogs tracked her to Neot, who turned them fleeing into the woods.  The hunters then came and claimed their quarry, but a quick word from Neot sent them back as well.  They all left empty-handed except the leader, who promptly took the tonsure and became a monk at Glastonbury.  

And then there are the fish.  Neot was assisted in finding three fish in his well.  He was told to never take more than one -- if he followed this, there would always be three.  The prophecy held for a long time, but eventually he fell ill.  Another monk, convinced that a hearty meal would revive Neot, took two of the fish.  Neot rallied to tell the monk what a bad thing he had done and to order him to return the fish to the well.  The monk protested that they were already dead, but Neot persisted.  Dutifully, the monk put the fish back in the well, where they immediately revived and swam off.  Can't beat that for wise fishery management.  Neot is not assigned the patronage of fish and game wardens, but if I had the badge, he'd be on my dashboard.