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.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7 -- Feast of Saint Reinhold

Patron of Stonemasons and Bricklayers

Reinhold and Bros on Bayard the Wonder-horse
There is a simple story told about the last year or so of Saint Reinhold's life.  Then there is the longer version -- a fanciful tale of Charlemagne's court.  That version shows up in William Caxton's Romance of the Four Sonnes of Aymon, which in turn was taken from older French sources.  Both could be true, in part or in whole, but here's some food for thought.  The source material for the great national hero-tales is called "The Matter of____________.'  Thus, King Arthur and his knights are the Matter of Britain.  Charlemagne and his knights are called the Matter of France. 

Consider this: As the children of Arthur's first generation of allies grew up, they too became Knights of the Round Table.  Arthur's loyal vassal, King Lot, married Arthur's half-sister, Morgause.  She had five sons, or rather for sons and a sin.  The four sons, all loyal brothers who shared adventures (even when one screwed up), were Gawain, Agravain, Gaheris, and Gareth, all sons of Lot.  The sin was Mordred, the child she had with her half-brother, Arthur.  Gawain, though always well intentioned, consistently makes the wrong choice and must always try to repent and redeem himself, thereby finding new ways to make bad decisions. 

Aymon, a duke in Charlemagne's court, has four sons: Richard, Alard, Guiscard, and Renaud (Reinhold).  Reinhold kills one of his cousins during a quarrel over a chess game.  Actually, he beats the fella to death with the board.  Bad choice.  The brothers flee and a long war follows, which gives the brothers affords the brothers numerous opportunities to be heroic and chivalric, but in the end, Charlemagne triumphs. 

Just that much of it seems pretty close to me.  Lot, a loyal duke (subordinate king) has four loyal sons who mostly stick together and have remarkable adventures.  Aymon, a loyal duke, has four sons who mostly stick together and have remarkable adventures.  No great insight here -- I'm just thinking that the background on Reinhold's life might have been embroidered a little too much. 

According to the legend, Reinhold is sent on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  [NB. I am leaving out the magical horse Bayard because Charlemagne is a beatus and I won't have him defamed with stories of animal abuse.  If you must, you can read about the horse here.] 

Reinhold returned from his pilgrimage a changed man.  He gave away his wealth and entered the monastery of St. Pantaleon in Cologne, where he became a stonemason working on St. Peter's Church.  At this point, we have reached the main part of Reinhold's story -- the more credible, less fanciful part. 

Reinhold was a strong, pious, hard-working monk who probably still had something of a short temper.  The secular stonemasons working with him were probably no different from many of us -- proud of their work, deliberate in their pace, and disinclined to be judged or supervised by less experienced workers.  He said at least one thing to piss them off -- maybe more.  Eventually, in spite of his good work (better than theirs?  Some accounts say so), they beat him to death with their hammers.  Then they tossed his body in the river, but an old woman was divinely tipped off about its location.  She passed the tip on to the monks, who fished him out and made him a saint. 

In a demonstration of holy forgiveness (whether genuine or just institutional), Reinhold is the patron saint of stonemasons.  Or perhaps this is just a demonstration that collective guilt may (or may not) be a concept that the Lord accepts, but it is not for pious humans to indulge in. 

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