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.

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 7 -- Feast of Saint(s) Meriadoc

Plainly, a hobbit, not a saint
This one goes out to the fans of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  If you are unconvinced that Tolkien's fantasy fits here, perhaps this lecture by David Lord Alton will persuade you.  Alternatively, if you secret hobbit name is Peony Proudfoot and can speak two dialects of Elvish, then you may also enjoy this lecture.  If you're a book-burning fundamentalist who thinks every work of fantasy fiction is an open door to the Inferno, you're probably reading the wrong blog. 

But on to our saints.  Two men named Meriadoc are celebrated on this feast.  Both were bishops of Vannes, in Brittany, France.  One was as late as the the seventh century; the other in the thirteenth (died 1302).  The latter was a hermit who was persuaded to give up his solitude and become a bishop.  Apparently he was good at his job and merited sainthood. 

Old school Rankin Bass version
The other Meriadoc lived in the same region, but sometime between the fourth and seventh centuries (accounts differ).  There's an extant play written in Middle Cornish about him -- the Beunans Meriasek.  Professor Tolkien was a philologist and so probably quite aware of this play in spite of its obscurity.  He was probably one of a half dozen people who could read Middle Cornish, so Meriadoc was probably quite familiar to him, and perhaps he even chuckled as he decided to name Frodo's traveling companion after him. 

Saint Meriadoc was born a Breton prince, but declined marriage to a fetching princess in order to become a priest.  He proved to be a skilled healer, and then crossed the Channel to bring the Word to Cornwall.  Although he was as handy at healing in Britain as he had been in Brittany, he found himself on the wrong side of King Teudar.  Back to Brittany he went, taking up residence in a neighborhood called Rohan.  He worked some weather, healed some lepers, brought a cool spring of clear, fresh water out of solid rock, and rained fire onto some bandits.  Eventually,  Meriadoc was prevailed upon to become the regional bishop, though he continued to wear a hair shirt and live austerely.  Meriadoc became a favorite of the Viscount of Rohan; King Teudar would have done well to have welcomed the saint rather than driving him away. 

There's even an action figure.
I don't feel compelled to offer the full biography of Meriadoc Brandybuck, one of the four hobbits to be included in the Fellowship of the One Ring of Power.  If you'd like to know more about him than the character knew about himself, read here.  Apart from the similarity of names, both Meriadoc the Saint and Meriadoc the hobbit served the Lord of Rohan, which is pretty cool.  True, the Saint rained fire down on a gang of bandits, which is pretty bad-ass, but the the hobbit was in on the kill of the Witch-King of Angmar, which is also bad-ass.  

As far as I know, Tolkien fans don't have their own patron saint yet.  I'd like to open nominations for the post.  The chair recognizes the nomination of Saint Bishop Meriadoc of Vannes.  Hearing no other nominations, Meriadoc is confirmed as the patron saint of LotRgeeks. 

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