Dunstan – Archbishop of Canterbury

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Dunstan (hill stone) In Christian legend, archbishop of Canterbury, patron saint of blacksmiths, armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, musicians, and the blind.

Feast, 19 May.

A monk of Glastonbury, Dunstan was a noted scholar, musician, painter (his self-portrait at the foot of Christ is still preserved at the Bodleian Library, Oxford), and metalworker.

As a young man he was a great favorite of King Edmund, who admired his musical talents.

He had such a strong influence over the king that he was accused of sorcery and driven from the court.

One day, as the king was stag hunting, his dogs leaped over a precipice.

The king thought he would be unable to rein his horse and would also fall.

He prayed and thought of his ill treatment of Dunstan, and the horse stopped on the brink.

The king then begged Dunstan to return to his court.

One legend tells how the devil asked Saint Dunstan to shoe his “single hoof.” He realized who his customer was, tied him to the wall, and proceeded.

He caused the devil so much pain that he cried out for mercy.

Dunstan agreed, but on the condition that the devil would never enter a place where a horseshoe was displayed.

Another legend tells how Dunstan outwitted the devil. He was making a chalice to use at Mass when the devil suddenly appeared before him.

The saint, however, was not afraid. He took the pincers out of the fire and seized the nose of the devil, who ran off howling and never again bothered the saint.

An old poem commemorates the event:

Saint Dunstan, as the story goes,

Once pulled the devil by the nose

With red-hot tongs, which made him roar

That he was heard three miles or more.

In Christian art Saint Dunstan is portrayed as a bishop holding a pair of tongs.

Last updated: November 19, 2012 at 22:37 pm

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