Saturday, March 28, 2009


I admit, I have been trolling for a saint for a while. I just had not found anyone who really captured my interest & I tend to go underground around Saint Patrick's Day anyhow. But the other morning I tripped across Saint Guntramnus. Here is a guy I can sink my teeth into. Most of what I found was not in English, making for tough research. I can read French passably & other languages with a dictionary close by, but that was too much like work so I thought I would just wing it.

First of all, Guntramnus was more or less a typical medieval monarch & not so much a catholic. Or maybe he was a Catholic for his time (I maintain that Louis was canonized for his extensive killing of Jews). The strange stories abound but my favorite is he divorced his wife (no real reason given), she later fell ill &, when the doctor did not cure her, Guntramnus killed him. With his bare hands. Well, a knife to the throat. You can see how he came to be the patron saint of murderers.

Guntramnus was apparently very very sorry afterward, so at least one site assures me he is the patron of REPENTANT murderers. By the way, his wife's name was Mercatrude. I almost want to get a new cat or goat just to name her Mercatrude.

There are other amusing anecdotes about Guntramnus. & then there is the stuff between the lines. He was a king & both his brothers were kings. I am sure they were just charm-all-around & no one touched a hair on any prior king's head. He is credited for keeping his nephews (one from each of his brothers) safe from multiple dowager queen's wrath. If I am reading correctly, the dowager queens in question were the boys own mothers. What happened to their fathers is not so well documented.

For anyone wondering how the boys were in Guntramnus' care in the first place, the terms guest/ward/hostage were more or less interchangeable in those days. If you are still confused (& maybe unclear how three brothers could all think they were king), let me recommend The Lion in Winter. Incidentally, Guntramnus is also the patron saint of guardians.

The last Guntramnus factoid I wanted to share was that in addition to repentant murderers & guardians, he is also patron saint of divorced people. He shares this with Helena (mother of Constantine) & Fabiola. Considering the church only very reluctantly even recognizes divorce & often only by granting annulments, I was pleased there were still patrons to choose from, even among the *divorced*: the guy who is also patron saint for murderers OR the mother an emperor & herself an empress & patroness of same OR the patroness of almost every marital victimization you can name. Like I said, choices.


  1. I'm curious to know if every felony has a patron saint.

  2. since you asked in addition to repentant murderers I have found patrons for: reformed thieves, thieves generally, victims of rape (but nothing for reformed rapists), drug abusers, victims of spousal abuse both physical & verbal, child, & general abuse (again nothing for reformed abusers, specifically)& finally a patron for penitent criminals generally.

    As for more modern crimes: there are patrons for accountants & no exclusion for embezzlers, patrons for doctors (malpractice), etc.

    Not sure what to make of the exclusions (reformed rapists et al). The real question is are rapists unredeemable OR is it just not a bad crime. When you look at the big 10, there is nothing along the lines of 'though shalt not make it with any one under the age of consent' or 'thou shalt not beat your children senseless'...