Wednesday, 7 September 2016

An honest trade

Daily Draw: Ship of Fools Tarot, Eight of Coins

Whether or not you're interested in religion the Oxford Dictionary of Saints has value in showing the sheer abundance of historical crafts and trades. 

There is St Honore patron saint of pastry chefs; Saint Crispin and Crispinian, patron saints of cobblers, curriers, tanners and leather workers; St Andrew patron saint of fishmongers (as well as sore throats and old maids) St Agatha patron saint of bakers, bell-makers and nurses; St Ambrose of Milan, patron saint of bee keepers, candle makers, wax melters and refiners; Erasmus of Formiae, patron saint of pyrotechnicians, steeplejacks, chimney sweeps and anyone who works at great heights.

Eligius was a particularly hardworking saint covering metal workers, jewellers, mechanics, farriers, harness makers, vets, farmers and numismatists (those who study coins). 

Peter the Apostle also had a broad remit protecting popes, fishermen, fishmongers, sailors, bakers, harvesters, butchers, glass makers, carpenters, shoemakers, clockmakers, blacksmiths, potters, bridge builders, potters and cloth makers. Venerius the Hermit was more of a niche saint focusing only on lighthouse keepers. 

Unsurprisingly Gabriel is the saint of communications workers, postal workers, broadcasters and messengers. St Genesius' role call of trades made me smile - actors, comedians, dancers and theatrical performers of all kinds are grouped together with attorneys and barristers. 

Alas I can't identify a saint of diarists (and therefore bloggers) although I have found Catherine of Bologna, patron saint of artists, Agabus, patron saint of fortune tellers and Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers. 

One of the disadvantages of the current emphasis on university education is that it devalues young people who want to get to work straight away as apprentices learning a craft or trade on the job. But there's a dignity in wanting to be a great baker, beautician, builder.or bookbinder as well as in passing on those skills to the next generation. I suspect that the results of such efforts make a greater contribution to human happiness than a whole heap of paper qualifications. 


  1. I imagine many of the monks kept journals of information without which history would be lacking. One of those things to research one day... :)

  2. You're right. St Bede patron saint of English writers and historians. Might use his ecclesiastical history of the English people as my next source. Thanks :)