A new exhibition explores how ‘Patron Saints’ should been updated for the modern age. The new show includes the Patron Saints of sat-navs, looters and the un-cool. A new poetry book has been published to accompany the free art exhibition. A patron saint is a saint who, in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic practice, is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Patron saints are nominated because they have already transcended to the metaphysical, are believed to be able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges.
Saints often become the patron saints of places where they were born or had been active. However, there were cases in Medieval Europe where a city which grew to prominence and transferred to its cathedral the remains of a famous saint who had lived and was buried elsewhere, and made him or her the city’s patron saint – such a practice conferring considerable prestige on the city concerned. In Latin America, Spanish and Portuguese explorers often named location for the saint on whose day the place was first visited – that Saint naturally becoming the patron saint of a town or city which developed there.
Professions sometimes get a patron saint who was himself or herself involved in that profession. Lacking such a saint, a profession would get a saint whose conspicuous acts or miracles in some way recall the profession. For example, when the hitherto unknown profession of photography appeared in the 19th Century and needed a patron saint, this role was assigned to Saint Veronica. According to Christian tradition, Veronica gave Jesus her veil to wipe his forehead as he was being taken to Golgotha and the image of his face became miraculously impressed upon it.
The alternative imaginary saints were created by poet Maggie Butt after she learned about the existence of official Patron Saints for Florentine Cheese merchants, lumberjacks and wax-melters. In order bring the saints into the 21st century Maggie has created the Patron Saint of eco-warriors, liars, hoods, naps, and ugly towns in her book ‘Sancti Clandestini – Undercover Saints’.
Illustrations of the new saints will feature in a new quirky exhibition at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, London from 29 October until 16 November 2012. Created by staff and students at Middlesex University, the illustrations will be on sale throughout the exhibition.
Maggie will launch the book in the cafe on the 7 November from 6-11pm, with poetry readings at 7, 8 and 9pm. Artists who contributed will also be on hand to discuss their work.
Maggie Butt, who is Deputy Dean of Art and Design at Middlesex University, said: “I am delighted by the sumptuous illustrations produced by the staff and students. They are inventive, surprising and full of variety. It is a great pleasure to be able to show them at the Poetry Cafe.”
The free exhibition will be open on Monday to Friday from 11am to 11pm and on Saturdays from 7pm until 11pm. The Poetry Cafe is closed on Sundays.
Photo 1: Illustration by Fredrik Eden of the Patron Saint of Old Dogs that will be featured in the exhibition