this bit really does require a massive leap in faith, we cannot believe what is written in our “newspapers” about things that happened yesterday so what can we believe about stuff written hundreds of years ago? No doubt there will be dozens of other saints who could be added to this page.
Saint Amand of Maastricht Amandus (Amantius) was born in Lower Poitou around 584 & died in 675, a French Christian saint & one of the great Christian apostles of Flanders. He worked mostly in the regions now called northern France and Belgium & is considered as the father of Belgian monasticism. Because of his association with the centres of wine & beer making & his reputation for hospitality, Amand is the Patron Saint of all those who produce beer - brewers, innkeepers, bartenders (hop growers?) & also of vine growers, vintners, wine merchants & err .... Boy Scouts.
There appear to be three Saint Arnolds bearing the title “Patron Saint of Brewers”. Arnold is also known as Arnulf, Arnou, Arnulphus & Arnoldus, depending on the country of origin.
Saint Arnold of Metz (580- 640) was born in Austria & in 612, at the age of 32, he was made Bishop in the French town of Metz. In 627 Arnold retired to a monastery near Remiremont in France, where he died on August 16, 640. The following year, the citizens of Metz requested his body be exhumed and ceremoniously carried to Metz for reburial in their Church of the Holy Apostles. During this journey the tired porters and followers stopped for a rest in the town of Champignuelles, they entered a tavern for a drink of beer only to find that there was only one mug of beer & so it had to be shared amongst them, but the mug never ran dry, all of the pilgrims’s thirsts were slaked. It is this miracle that lead to the canonization of Saint Arnold. Saint Arnold is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Brewers.
Saint Arnold of Soissons, Belgium, was born in Brabant in 1040 (died in 1087) is often confused with Saint Arnold of Metz, indeed lots of similar tales are credited to them. Following a roof collapse at an abbey brewery in Flanders, Arnold of Soissons prayed to God to multiply the stores of beer which were left for the monk's consumption (no human casualties are mentioned). When Arnold's prayers were answered in abundance, the monks and towns folk wanted (understandably) to canonize him there & then. Arnold of Soissons is also credited with introducing many improvements to the brewing process. Arnold is often called the patron saint of hop pickers as hops are said to have originated in the Brabant region of Belgium. The Belgians reportedly sent the first hops to England after a Belgian princess married a Kentish prince, her dowry included land adjacent to the Affligem brewery.
The third Saint Arnold connected to beer is Arnou of Oudenaarde. His claims to beer fame are that he successfully appealed to God for cold beer for the soldiers to drink during a battle in Flanders in the 11th century & he was also able to multiply beer into vast quantities through blessing and prayer.
Augustine of Hippo, now Algeria, (born 354 AD, died 430 AD) was known for his wild lifestyle & excessive drinking (the first binge drinker & ASBO kid?). After conversion to Christianity, his complete turnaround to life of moderation contributed to his becoming a patron saint of brewers, brewing & also printers.
Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland or “The Mary of the Gael”was born in Ireland in 457& died in 525. Brigid founded the monastery of Kildare around 470. She was a generous, compassionate woman who also loved her beer. She worked in a leper colony which ran out of beer (this could be describing my local), in those days beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, & so this was potentially a very serious situation. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer (please, no Bud jokes here unless of course, she had already bathed in it, for Stella substitute toilet water) to nourish the lepers & visiting clerics. In a similar miracle Brigid provided beer to 18 churches from Maundy Thursday to the end of Paschal Time (6.30pm - only joking, Paschal Time is actually the period between Easter Sunday & the Saturday following Whit Sunday). All this beer came from one single barrel in her convent. There are many stories of Brigid performing other miracles.
Saint Florian (possibly born around 700, some sources say he lived between 250-304) is reputed to have saved Nurnberg (Nuremberg), Germany from burning in a great fire. Florian is the Patron Saint of firefighters, barrel-makers, coopers, brewers, chimney sweeps,soap-boilers, harvests& against battle, drowning, fire and flood.
King Gambrinus of Flanders is said to have invented hopped malt beer. Some people think Gambrinus may have been Jan Primus (John I, 1251-1294), Duke of Flanders, Brabant, Louvain, & Antwerp, he is said to have introduced the toast as a custom. Some others thing Gambrinus was Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless, AKA Ganbrivius, 1371-1419). There appears to be no evidence actually of him being made a Saint, Gambrinus is often called the "King of Beer" & is celebrated by brewers as a Patron Saint.
Saint Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles & the Gospel According to Luke, is, for some unknown reason, regarded as a patron Saint of brewers. Possible connections include his being a physician & the knowledge that beer was healthier than the water of the time plus his ability to mix various herbs together for medicines just as they were mixed for beer.
Nicolas (Nicholas) was a bishop in the city of Myra, Turkey, he also known as Nicholas of Bari as his relics are preserved in the church of San Nicola, Bari, Italy. He is believed to have lived in first half of 4th century.
Saint Nicholas is associated with the legend of the Three Clerics, three church scholars stopped at an inn for the night, the innkeeper murdered them & stole their money. Nicholas asked God to resurrect them, thus becoming a protector of brewers & travellers.
Another famous story about Nicholas is that of a family who were so poor, they did not have enough money for their three young daughters to get married, this was a time when every young woman needed money to pay for their wedding & to set up a home for themselves. Bishop Nicholas heard of this families plight and wanted to help them anonymously. In one version of the story he climbed up on their roof three nights in a row and threw gold coins down the chimney to land in the girls' stockings, hanging by the fire to dry. After two of his daughters had been able to marry because of the money that mysteriously appeared this way, the father, determined to find out who their mysterious benefactor was, hid behind the chimney the next night to discover Nicholas with more money. Nicolas asked the father not to tell anyone, but the wanted everyone to know what a good and generous man Bishop Nicholas was & told everyone he knew. That is how we have the story and the tradition of stocking full of gifts today.
Alleged miracles, mainly occurring in Germany, Switzerland & the Netherlands, make him the secret purveyor of gifts to children on 6 December, the day on which the Church celebrates his feast; his feast day is December 6th because he died on the 6th December, probably in 342 or 350 AD. Feast days celebrate the entry of a Saint's soul into Heaven.
“Saint Nicholas” sounds like “San-ta claus” when spoken in the Dutch language & eventually became the story of Santa Claus after being spread mainly by Dutch settlers. Now, in many countries Saint Nicholas has become identified with Santa Claus who gives presents to children on Christmas eve.
Also the Patron Saint of: bakers, merchants, pawnbrokers, seafarers, scholars, bankers, coopers, travellers, perfumers, unmarried girls, brides, robbers & children.
Saint Veronus, the patron saint of Lambeek, a town famous for a unique style of beer (Lambic), is a local saint who gained national appeal as the Patron Saint of Belgian brewers.
Saint Wenceslas (or Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia) was born in 907 & helped the spread of Christianity through Czechoslovakia. As Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings, whilst the local hop growers and brewers may have liked this idea I doesn’t seem a very Christian act to me. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers. He was probably the famous “Good King Wenceslas” & was killed by his younger brother Boleslav (Boleslav I of Bohemia) in September 929. Saint Wenceslas is often confused with King Wenceslas II (born 6th Oct. 1289 died 4th Aug. 1306) who persuaded the Pope to revoke an order banning the brewing of beer, again endearing the Wenceslas name to brewers & drinkers.
No doubt there will be a few Patron Saints of wines knocking around so watch this space but DO NOT expect “All Saints” to appear on my site!
“When The Saints Go Marching In” is performed here by Louis Armstrong.