Thursday, 16 April 2009

S. Magnus the Martyr, Earl of Orkney


"0 Magnus of my love, thou it is who would guide us; thou fragrant body of grace, remember us, though saint of power, who didst encompass and protect the people ... Lift our flocks to the hills, quell the fox, ward from us spectre, giant, fury and oppression." (From an ancient prayer to St. Magnus.)


Today is the feast day of the patron saint of my parish church, S. Magnus the Martyr. He is a little known saint - more can be discovered about him here and here - whose mythological vita is contained in various Nordic sagas, and his decidedly dodgy claim to martyrdom has never really worked in his favour. His principal shrine is up in Kirkwall on Orkney, where his holy relics are guarded by Presbyterians and, I assume, a weekly floral display.


Unfortunately, this year we won't be keeping his feast at church. The parish priest is taking a post-Easter holiday, and Easter Sunday was pretty much this year's patronal. As the new peal of twelve bells was rung from the tower of S. Magnus for the first time, a few hundred people passed through the church in the course of the day: a hospitality situation that makes anyone's patronal seem like a walk in the park.


Still, by way of observance, I do have this one story to tell, which ought to be added to the list of our patron's glorious works:


A while ago, my housemates and I noticed a putrid smell coming from the sink in the kitchen, and even from the washing machine and dishwasher. Having olefactorily investigated the source of the odour along the length of the street, we decided that either the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles had committed mass suicide and were rotting in our sewer, or some other object was blocking the pipes. Anyway, back home, I got to thinking what I could realistically do, having no plumbing experience to my name. Then I remembered the prayer to S. Magnus above, recalling his "fragrant body of grace". I called out to the Holy Martyr, whose intercession has been trusted for years and whose work is associated with a powerful smell of flowers, and lo, within 24 hours, the smell was gone.


I cordially invite every reader of this blog to visit the martyr's church near London Bridge, and to light a votive candle at his shrine. See you there!

1 comment:

  1. Davis d'Ambly20 April 2009 at 16:17

    I'm thrilled to know of a saint who can be called upon in plumbing disasters - very useful indeed. (St Anthony has never failed me in finding a parking space).

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