Sunday, 30 August 2009

Saint Eutrope, healing saint

The centrepiece of the Breton village of Langourla is the Saint Eutrope tower. All that remains of a mediaeval church (its Victorian replacement is dedicated to St Peter), the building also has its own legend.

It is said that if a person is ill - particularly with migraine or dropsy - they can be healed by the soil surrounding the tower. It must be placed on the site of illness, before being returned to the spot from which it was taken. I haven't experimented: since the surrounding ground is now beautifully-kept garden, the attempt wouldn't be popular!

Little is known about the life of the third-century saint himself. He was apparently a bishop in Saintes, martyred after he converted the daughter of the Roman governor. Her father, upset at the idea of her becoming a christian, paid bandits to kill the bishop, which they did with axe-blows to the head. Estelle, the governor's daughter, was beheaded on her father's orders and buried alongside the bishop.

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