St. Bennen’s Summer

We in America didn’t have Indian summer this year. Indian summer is in September or October. No, this year we’ve had St. Martin’s Summer, which is generally an English thing. (It’s also the title of a Rafael Sabatini book.) However, the heat spell seems to have ended last night (two days early for Martinmas), which I guess would make it St. Bennen’s Summer.

St. Bennen (or Benignus, as the boring calendar calls him) was St. Patrick’s Jimmy Olsen, according to legend. He was the youngest and chirpiest of his disciples, and also the one who insisted on getting shut into a burning house with a druid while both prayed for rain as a trial of their gods’ power. (Archaeologists’ experiments have shown that houses of the type used by the Irish at the time would burn fiercely, quickly, and chokingly. Staying inside one on fire was a death sentence.) Also, when St. Patrick prayed the prayer known as “The Deer’s Cry” (or the Lorica, but there are a ton of other Loricas; it’s a genre name), God made Patrick and his group look like a herd of deer to their enemies, while Bennen looked like a fawn following behind them. In sober fact, Bennen eventually succeeded Patrick as bishop of Ireland. But the legend’s too neat to ignore.

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