Saturday, 22 August 2020

saint guinefort

Venerated on this day and celebrated since the thirteenth century until the 1930s despite multiple and vehement prohibitions by the Church, this holiday marks our third recent iteration of dog-related saints (see previously here and here), albeit this one is our first actual canine.
The faithful greyhound of a knight living in the Dombes near Lyon, the knight left his infant son in Guinefort’s care one day when he needed to go on a hunting expedition. Of course the dog was a good and capable baby-sitter but there was a tragic misunderstanding: like the tale The Brahmin and the Mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the knight returned to find the baby missing and Guinefort with bloody jaws. Assuming the worse, the knight smote Guinefort, realising only too late that the dog had saved the child, taking him to a secure spot and killed a viper. To make amends for their error, they interred Guinefort in a well and transformed it into a shire, a grotto with a grove of trees. Several miraculous interventions that saved infants and small children from harm are attributed to Guinefort and new parents often brought their children to be blessed at the well.