St. Cono

St. Cono of Teggiano (St. Conus in Latin) is one of those saints who’s both really popular if you’re in the right places, and practically unknown in most of the English-speaking world. Basically, anywhere Italians from Teggiano went, they brought St. Cono with them.

Here’s his story. He was the only son born from a woman otherwise barren. He longed to become a Benedictine monk but his mother wouldn’t let him. Then one day she found him (either hiding from his parents or praying) unhurt in the heart of a bread oven that was being heated up to bake bread, and she decided it was time to send him to the monastery. Italian legend also says he had a cone-shaped head which he used to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. 🙂 He was a model monk, eager to do all kinds of work and prayer. One night he dreamed that he’d been told that God called him to come that day. He died at the age of 18, but his holiness was remembered.

Anyway, logically, he’s a patron saint of bakers and bread-sellers. In his parts of Italy, his intercession is also sought against earthquakes, wars, plagues, and other bad stuff. There’s a big fiesta for him every year at his chapel in Florida, Uruguay, where he’s seen as a saint who helps families. There are still San Cono sodalities around. His feasts is June 3, but he has other feasts related to various events. Folks in one neighborhood in Brooklyn celebrate the anniversary of the translation of his relics on Sept. 27, 1261, with a procession to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. His burning love for God and lack of attachment to the world is a wonderful model.

However, he’s also a saint of people who make their bread a different way. He’s been unofficially adopted by Spanish-speaking gamblers as the patron saint of lotteries and games of chance. (Obviously not knowing about the science-fictional Nick Van Rijn’s similar devotion to St. Dismas, the Holy Thief.) Some pages about this seem to be actual Santeria, while others just seem like they’re presenting overenthusiastic folk Catholicism. Poor St. Cono. This is just not his thing.


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