Throughout history and across cultures, certain individuals have been associated with miraculous deeds which was believed to be indicative of special favor from their deities. The holiness of these individuals could take many forms, from healing the sick, to extreme piety, revelations, or other many other things. Such individuals were taken to be exemplars for others and various cults sprung up for their worship.
In Christianity, some followers felt that saints could plead with God on their behalf for salvation. While some Christians would pray to the saints directly for such intersession, others sought more direct connection, undertaking pilgrimages to places where the saints performed their great deeds, lived, or where relics of theirs were kept. The holiest of relics were body parts of the saint, often hair or bones. One example is that of Saint Januarius who died in 305 CE and whose blood was kept as a relic. The container for this relic (known as a reliquary) is regularly brought out and held to be miraculous for the blood is dried, but after prayer, may liquefy again. Reports of this miracle have been dated as far back as 1389 CE.
Due to the purported power of the saints and their relics, it is unsurprising that theft became commonplace. In 1087 the town of Bari in Italy organized the theft of the remains of Saint Nicolas (aka Santa Claus) from the Turkish town of Myra. While such a brazen theft would likely be a clandestine affair in today's world, Bari was not at all secret that they had organized the heist. Rather, it was announced widely that those seeking to worship at the remains of Saint Nicolas would now find them in Bari. A new basilica was built and the town became a major destination for pilgrims bringing new economic activity.
Because of the value of such relics, it was quite common for fraud to occur. Many churches claimed to have the same artifact. So much so, that in the sixteenth century John Calvin remarked that if one were to collect all the relics in one place, "it would be made manifest that every Apostle has more than four bodies, and every Saint two or three." Purveyors of false relics were recorded by contemporary historians such as Gregory of Tours who tells of a man trying to sell relics that were, in fact, "moles’ teeth, the bones of mice, bears’ claws and bear’s fat."
While many saints were honored with holy days and feasts in their honor, the tradition of All Saints Day was eventually created as a catch-all to celebrate lesser saints collectively.
The history of Saints in Calontir is not particularly well known. Sainthood is not an official award bestowed by the Crown. While recent beatifications have taken place in the Shire of Standing Stones and have a set of rites in common, other saints have been made elsewhere. As there is no codified definition for the process, opinion varies on the legitimacy.
Within the Calontir traditions, saints maintain the historical importance but we leave the reader to determine whether or not they should be held as exemplars of behavior. As with historical saints, a tradition of relics has also sprung up including fragments of the bed in which Saint Pavel was sleeping when struck by lightning and are owned by many who were at that event.
Following the period practice, this event seeks to celebrate all of Calontir's saints collectively with an Our Saints Weekend to have fun and celebrate our history!
Many of the the saints of Calontir have had profound influences on Calontir's history and culture. So for this event, we seek to capture some of those traditions as well as ones that would be done in period.
To recreate the experience of a pilgrimage, we will be placing small shrines around the event site, each one dedicated to a different saint. The shrines will contain a history of the saint (a hagiography), relics associated with the saint, and a stamp. Upon visiting the shrines, attendees may stamp a designated page in a "passport" indicating they visited the shrine. Those completing the pilgrimage and visiting each shrine can drop off their passport and entered into a raffle to win a shrine of their choice to take home.
Saint Pavel was known for hosting communal cook outs, informally known as a "steak thang". At these, Pavel would fire up the grills and anyone could bring whatever they would like to have grilled. Following that tradition, we will be hosting a Pavel style steak thang. We'll even provide the sides!
Calontir bardic is well known for its group singing, often drawing from a long list of Calontir favorites. However, this can make it hard for newer members to slip in. To ensure that new bards had a chance to be heard, Saint Pavel would often act as the officiator for bardic circles, calling on those around the fire to "entertain us or be a pell." In honor of Pavel's memory, we will host a bardic circle Friday night with the intent to call on people to let their voices be heard. So if you attend, be prepared with a song or story! And if you can't, then a request will work just as well.