Monday, October 25, 2010

St. Crispin's Day - The Patron Saint of Shoemakers

Today, October 25th, marks St. Crispin's Day, a day that traditionally has been celebrated as the feast day for the patron saints of shoemakers, Saint Crispin and his brother Saint Crispianus.

The story of these two brothers has become somewhat obscured by the passage of time, but legend has it that the two saints were sons of a 3rd century patrician Roman family who converted to Christianity. Disinherited because of their religious choice, they turned to shoemaking to make a living. In order to try to escape the persecution of Christians in Rome. the two brothers moved to Soisson, France where they began preaching and making shoes for the poor. Their charity and pious activities became well known and soon their activities were noticed by Roman authorities had them arrested.

According to legend, the brother's refusal to deny Christianity resulted in numerous tortures. First they were fitted with millstones around their necks and thrown in a river, but miraculously the stones fell away and they swam to safety. Next, they were thrown into a vat of boiling lead, but rather than being harmed, they splashed about like children in the molten metal splattering lead into the eyes of their tormentor, thereby blinding him. Various other tortures were visited upon them but each had no effect until they were finally beheaded on October 25th in the late 3rd century.

In the 6th century, a church was erected in their memory in Soissons. An alter also exists for them in the parish church of Faversham in Kent, England, where another version of the story suggests the brothers escaped and continued to preach and make shoes for the poor.

The brotherly equality, piety and earnest labour of Saints Crispin and Crispianus made them inspiring examples for many European shoemakers and eventually they became known as the patron saints of shoemakers.

One of the most famous moments which calls attention to St. Crispin's Day is the motivational speech from Shakespeare's " Henry V" where the King rallies his troops for the Battle of Agincourt which occurs on St. Crispin's Day.

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