Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sts. Crispin and Crispinian

The Roman Martyrology includes these twin brother martyrs for this day. St. Crispin was a Roman noble and brother of Saint Crispinian with whom he evangelized Gaul in the middle 3rd century. They worked from Soissons, preached in the streets by day and made shoes by night. The group's charity, piety and contempt of material things impressed the locals, and many converted in the years of their ministry. They were martyred in Rome in 286 by torture and beheading, under emperor Maximian Herculeus, being tried by Rictus Varus, governor of Belgic Gaul and an enemy of Christianity. A great church was built at Soissons in the 6th century in their honor; Saint Eligius ornamented their shrine.
This feast was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Henry V, (Act 4, Scene 3). The king gave a rousing speech (called "Saint Crispin's Day) on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, fought on this day in 1415. (Read a synopsis of the battle.) The English, although outnumbered, soundly defeated the French. In England this was a religious holiday on which commoners and serfs got a day of rest.
Patron: Cobblers; glove makers; lace makers; lace workers; leather workers; saddle makers; tanners; weavers.
Symbols: Cobbler's last; shoe; shoemaker's tools; awl and knife saltire; millstones; flaying knives; rack.

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