St. Sirius

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wikipedia is a wonderful thing.  Recently I had the term “dog days” stuck in my head. So consulting with the Wick, I learned that the original term came from the Romans, possibly earlier from the Greeks, who referred to the star Sirius called the Dog Star because it appears in the constellation Canis Major (large dog, or Big Dog if you prefer).

Between roughly July 7 and Aug 15 the star rose (no longer the case) in alignment with the sun. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.  Betty, my brown dog, survived another year as there were no Romans around this past July.  By no cooincidence the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of dogs, is August 16. I could not determine if the feast included roast dog. St. Roch or Rocco was a 14th Century priest who’s exploits were recently explored in a doctoral thesis by Pierre Bolle (not to be confused with the sunglasses Bolle’). Not sure where the dogs come in because St. Roch was actually more involved in healing folks from the plague that spead through Europe in the mid-1300s. He in fact is credited with healing himself.  His demise is even more curious and there is a lot of confusion about whether he died in Montpellier, France or Voghera, Italy.   Predominent economy of Voghera today is based on Italian silk production and wine.

From here it is only a click to consult Wicki on the patronage for/of saints. We all know there are patron saints for virtually everything from hangnails to STDs. One of my favorites, St. Jude, is patron of lost causes, the fall back saint lest you forget one with a  more specific cause. Creating patron saints began sometime in the Middle Ages first establishing patrons for specific towns, usually where the saint was born.  By the beginning of the Renissance the practice of patronage ( I’m sure patronage goes back way before then) was applied to places, things, events, ailments et. al.  As the story goes, the saint, already being in heaven, could chat with the Big Guy directly about a particular issue you might have, thus interceeding on your behalf.  However, God and the Church got a little miffed when people started praying directly to a Saint as this might be loosely confused with idolatry. However, for some priests, never missing an opportunity to make a little wine money, it must have been only a short leap to the selling of indulgences.

My personal favorite is St. Alfonzo, made famous by Frank Zappa, in his song, “St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast”.  Turns out this 18th century saint was a lawyer. I’m guessing the church had issues with petifiles even back then. Just sayin’. 




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