Monday, July 26, 2010

St. Dunstan (c.909 to May 19, 988)

"The water is wide; I cannot cross o'er,
Neither have I wings to fly. Give me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I."
(The Water is Wide)

At the Irish music session at a local pub, I was given a CD called "Another Door Opens."
I remember being upset about a troubled relationship or the loss of a loved one and my cousin, Cindy, saying it would be okay: that when one door closes, another door opens.
The CD's title was enough to make we want to listen (although I'm not fond of Irish music) and I found many of the tunes and instrumentals on it quite popular in the Irish music circuit including the traditional song "The Water is Wide" and the reel "The Merry Blacksmith."
Today's saint is the patron of blacksmiths.
St. Dunstan was born in Baltonsborough, England c.909. As a young man, he was educated by Irish monks and appointed to the court of King Athelstan. But, because St. Dunstan was a favorite of the king, jealous members of the court accused him of being into witchcraft, so he was ordered to leave. His enemies threw him in a cesspool.
St. Dunstan escaped and then the bishop suggested he become a monk. He didn't think he could lead a life of celibacy, but after tumors thought to be leprosy appeared on his skin (it was actually caused by being thrown in a cesspool), he felt it was a sign to live a religious life.
St. Dunstan took Holy Orders in 943 and lived as a hermit in Glastonbury. When he was playing the harp one day in his tiny cell, legend says he was tempted by the devil. St. Dunstan just happened to have his blacksmith tongs handy and used them on the demon.
St. Dunstan was a musician and artist who worked to restore monastic life in England. He later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Dunstan died on May 19, 988 and his feast day is May 19.

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