The Other I

December 18, 2010

Auld acquaintances

Filed under: The English — theotheri @ 10:09 pm

On the wall in the kitchen where I  grew up, there was always a calendar with a little paragraph describing the saint whose feast was being celebrated that day.  I thought I knew every saint who ever lived.

Then we moved to Cambridge.  Here are a small selection of the saints whose names grace the churches and streets here:  Sts Ovins, Eligius, Botolph, Neots, Tibbs, Vigor, Wendreda, Pega, Guthlac, and Ethelwolds.

I have never heard of a single one of them.  I looked some of them up in Wikipedia recently, but even Wikipedia has never heard of St. Tibbs, and seems to think that St. Ovins in a town in France.

Those  saints I did find were mostly 6th or 7th century religious – a bishop, a monk, a hermit.  Botolph is a patron of travellers and farmers, Eligius was French and is the patron of goldsmiths, coin collectors — and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.  St. Wendreda was the daughter of a king and still has a church in her name near here, and Botolph has a church that I pass almost every time I’m in Cambridge city centre.

I love living in a place where the names of places and buildings still being used are 12 or 13 centuries old.  You can even take a millennium off their ages and they were standing before the Constitution of the United States was written.

Unlike saints like David and Peter and Michael and Andrew, nobody is named Botolph or Wendreda anymore.

But people are still living on their streets and worshipping in their churches.

Puts things in a different perspective.


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