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Inspirational Reads

Happy Saint Gall Day!

October 16, 2012

I keep thinking about trying to breathe some life back into this thing, but I really can't settle on what I want to do with it.  I've spun around a half dozen topics in my day, from writing to sports to stories about my genitalia to the ancient world, with a healthy dose of science and religious history tossed in for good measure.  Do people still even read blogs?  I don't know.  I'm so out of the loop.

Yet, here I am, rolling back to one of those topics that I've embraced before.  I guess if it works (sort of), why mess with it, right?

So, today we gather to celebrate the life of a man named Gall.  Or Gallus or Gallen or something like that.  Gall was an Irishman born sometime in the middle of the sixth century (that's around 550 to you and me) and who fell in with a rowdy group of hooligans known as the "Gang of Twelve" or the "Twelve Companions", headed up by this cat named Saint Columbanus.  Columbanus (whose name means "the white dove") was famous for taking the Gospel from Ireland where it had settled in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire and bringing it back to the Continent.  He, along with his twelve disciples, built several monasteries and churches in the Frankish kingdoms that existed across what is now France and Germany, Switzerland and Austria after Rome's power vacated the premises.

As an aside, I'm glad we've stopped giving people names that end in "anus".  Coriolanus, Columbanus, Uranus, Myanus...this is a trend that had to stop.  Thankfully, we as a people came to our senses.

Butt humor aside, Gall himself accompanied Columbanus up the Rhine river to the city of Bregenz, which is about as far west as you can go and still be in Austria.  There Gall fell ill (probably some sort of bladder ailment...okay, sorry, I'll stop) and Columbanus left to go to Italy to found more churches.  Gall asked him to wait up, but Columbanus said "LOL, no, F U sir" and left him to recover.  Gall never left the region.

He was nursed back to health at a place called Arbon in Switzerland, which is basically Bregenz's neighbor across the lake.  After feeling better, Gall decided to wander around in the woods there.  He lived the remainder of his life as a hermit in the region, hanging out in the forest.  The area, as mentioned earlier, was part of the Frankish kingdom, and when a young woman named Fridiburga, who just happened to be engaged to marry the Frankish king Sigebert II, started climbing the walls and spitting up pea soup, Gall was enlisted to drive the demons from her body.  Once that tiny issue was resolved, Sigebert was so happy that he was no longer going to stick his dick in crazy that he gifted a large swath of land to Gall in order to build a monastery.  Gall never got around to it, because he was busy wandering aimlessly through the woods.

One of those nights when Gall had set up camp in the woods and was having a bit of a fireside chat with his followers, the fire began to get low.  Perhaps his feet hurt or he was just so into the stories he was spinning about foiling the local demon population, but Gall decided that, rather than gather wood for the fire himself, he enlisted the aid of a bear to bring him the wood.  Gentle Ben's great, great, great-grandpappy offered no argument but instead showed up with logs thrown across his shoulder.  The fire was fed and the stories kept on spinning.  Despite the fact that Gall had a ready source of trees and a gigantic assistant who could easily bring him ever log he'd ever need, Gall did not get around to finishing (or starting) that church and monastery.  He ended up dying in Arbon in 646 at the ripe old age of nearly 100.  No mention of how the bear took it, although he was heard to chuff "The gall of some people..."


Eventually, a church was built in the area to honor the saint, and the region became known as Saint Gallen in his honor.  Thanks to his friendly forest helper, Saint Gall is symbolized by a bear (sometimes with a load of lumber thrown over a shoulder), but he is curiously the Patron Saint of geese, birds, poultry and...Sweden--a land which he never visited as far as I can tell.  He is also not a Patron of France, which was known as Gaul long before the Franks hung their name on it.  Geography fail.  Saint Gall is also the Patron Saint of shitty Chicago sports teams and insane, British survivalists.  For reasons that should be obvious, however, most of the sports teams from the Canton of Saint Gallen are known as the Bears, although the Stones also seems an apt moniker.


Pearl said...

I would've lost all kinds of bets on this prior to your post: Gall not being in Gaul, Sweden, all of it.

Now I am loaded -- if you'll excuse the expression -- for bear. Bring on the pub quizzes!


Scope said...

When I'm bear, I can sling my wood over my shoulder, too.

MJenks said...