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dinsdag 23 februari 2016

Ice Saints

Maybe you’ve never heard about them, but the Ice Saints are in the Roman-Catholic a folkloric tradition since the year 1000. Their feast dates are on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May.

The name days are:
- 11th May: St Mamertus
- 12th May: St Pancras
- 13th May: St Servatius
- 14th May: St Boniface

Some may know this, but three is the holy number. Yes, many world religions contain triple deities or concepts of trinity, including the Christian Holy Trinity, the Hindu Trimurti, the Three Jewels of Buddhism, the Three Pure Ones of Taoism, …
In Christianity the ministry of Jesus which lasted three years, during the Agony in the Garden Christ asked three times for the chalice to be taken from his lips, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death, the devil tempted Jesus three times, St Peter thrice denied Jesus and thrice affirmed his faith in Jesus…

So in most countries only three of the Ice Saints are celebrated or known. In some countries it’s St Mamertus, in other countries it’s St Boniface who can’t join the party.

The saints get their feast days to the fact that in Middle North Europe most of the time after these days the possibility of frost during the night is low. Night frost can damage the young crop. It can still happen though, but the feast days of the Ice Saints mark the moment of the changing from winter days to more mild temperatures.

About the saints themselves, well… There is one that causes some confusion.

St Mamertus (not celebrated in Southern Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Czech Republic…) was born in the beginning of the 5th century in Vienne (France). He was a religious man who wanted to become a priest. In 461 he became the bishop of his hometown. For an unknown reason he came in conflict with the pope (Hilarius), it had something to do with an adjacent diocese but no documentation was found.
During the time Mamertus was bishop, the city was plagued by catastrophes. Fires, earthquakes, wars, diseases… In 470 Mamertus organized a Cross Procession, to get Divine intervention.
On May 11th 475, Mamertus died in his city.

St Pancras was born in 290. He moved to Rome after the death of his parents. Christianity was not accepted yet and you were convicted to death. Not impressed, Pancras took care of the prisoners with his faith. For this he was brought before the emperor Diocletianus who promised him wealth if he would denounce Christianity. The 14 year old Pancras remained faithful, Diocletianus sentenced him to the death and Pancras was beheaded on May 12th 304.

St Servatius was one of the first faith preachers in was is now known as the Netherlands. Involved in great ecclesial and political developments he must have been a man of significance. We find his name as bishop of Tongeren in 340. During the synod of Rimini (359) he was one of the defenders of the faith in Jesus, son of God.
Being a opponent of Arianism Servatius was sent to emperor Constanius II to plead for the people of Gaul.
He died in Maastricht on May 13th 384 and is buried in the St Servaas Basilica of Maastricht.

St Boniface is a name for different people who had a lot of influence in the early medieval Catholic Church.

The most know Saxon missionary Bonface, who wanted to turn the Northern Netherlands into a Christian area, and later moved to the area northeast of the Rhine was killed in 754 during a 2nd attempt to Christianize Friesland. This Boniface has his feast day on June 5th.

The Ice Saint Boniface was born somewhere in the 3rd century. Little is known about his life. Born in Rome, not as Christian, but converted during a pilgrimage. Upon return in Rome he witnessed the Christian prosecution and confessed openly he was a Christian too. He was captured and tortured by the soldiers of the emperor. On May 14th 307 he died a martyr’s death after being thrown in burning pitch.

In Bruges was never visited by one of the Ice Saints. However you can find a hotel that is named after St Boniface. And there is the St Boniface bridge, but that little bridge is more known as the “Lovers Bridge”.
Being one of the youngest bridges (1910) of Bruges, it’s still one of the city’s most beautiful spots to be. You can take stunning, romantic pictures there. With the Church Of Our Lady on the background really breathtaking spot in the city.