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.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28 -- Feast of Saint Botvid

Botvid seems to have been Sweden's first indigenous saint.  He caught the Christian faith while on a trading trip to England sometime in the early twelfth century.  Pretty soon he was evangelizing all over Sweden. 

In the depictions of him, he is shown holding a fish and an axe, representing the two big stories told about his life. 

The Fish -- When he returned to Sweden, he and his neighbors went to sea to fish.  The best fishing spot was near an island owned by a man named Bo, or perhaps Bovinus.  Bo, who claimed one-quarter of the catch from anyone fishing his grounds, sailed right out to announce this when he saw Botvid's little fleet approaching.  Knowing it was a very rich fishing ground, some of the neighbors decided to stay and comply.  Others agreed with Botvid and sailed on to more remote, unclaimed islands.  The fish decided to follow Botvid too.  Although Botvid and his pals sailed further, they returned before those who fished near Bo's Island.  Moreover, they came back with full boats, while the others didn't catch a single fish.  It doesn't take too many miracles like that before folks get wise and start asking for baptism. 

The Axe --  Botvid came across a foreign slave for sale.  The guy may have been a Wend, a Finn, or a Slav -- stories vary.  But he was from somewhere east of Sweden, which is a little like East of Eden.  Botvid's clever plan was to Christianize this Wend and then emancipate him so that he could return home to propagate the faith.  When the fella was all catechized and baptized, Botvid and a tenant farmer named Esbjörn set out to take their convert back to his homeland.  En route, they camped on the island of Rågö.  During the night, the freedman took Botvid's axe and killed him.  He also killed Esbjörn, and then took the boat and continued his journey home. 

A white bird led Botvid's brother, Björn, to the corpses.  Björn had them brought home, interred, and then built a church in Botvid's honor.  Although the original wooden church was replaced by a stone structure in 1176, it remains active today.  There is also a holy well (more of a marshy spring, actually) that opened when Botvid's casket was set down en route to its final resting spot.

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