18 July 2015

Feast of St Arnulf

"From man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world." - St Arnulf of Metz

I love being Catholic. For lots of reasons, of course, and many of them more important than this one, but we do have us some pretty great stories.

St Arnulf was born into the Frankish nobility in the late 500s, and had a distinguished career as a military commander and civil servant under several Frankish kings. He married a noblewoman named Doda, who gave him two sons and later became a nun. Arnulf wished to become a monk but was appointed bishop of Metz, capital of Austrasia (modern-day Luxembourg with bits of Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands), around 611 AD at the request of Chlothachar II, who had a high regard for Arnulf's administrative skills. Bishop Arnulf was much beloved by his people, using his office as both bishop and adviser to the king to promote justice and protect the rights of the poor. Toward the end of his life, Arnulf retired to Remiremont Abbey in the Vosges Mountains, where he spent his last years as a monk.

After Arnulf had died around 645 AD at Remiremont, a delegation from Metz retrieved his remains so that they could bury him in the basilica. Legend tells that the delegation encountered very hot weather as they traveled, and did not have enough to drink. One member of the party pronounced his faith that "Blessed Arnulf" would provide what they needed, and immediately the empty jug of beer was miraculously replenished, remaining full until they reached Metz.

Thus, patron saint of beer and brewers.

Well, how could we let the feast day of the patron saint of beer go to waste? Beer didn't exactly go with the chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots I was planning to make, but providentially, just as we were discussing this Matt got a message from a friend asking if he'd like to get a beer together and catch up. Clearly, it was meant to be; he headed off to the brewery, and I made a much simpler supper of salmon noodle casserole. Beer wasn't a good fit with that, either, but it didn't really matter because Kit wanted to nurse again soon enough that I couldn't have fed her if I'd had anything. His feast day is already marked on the calendar for next year, though!

St. Arnulf, pray for us!

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