February 5th, 2011 Headsman
(Thanks to Carl Pyrdum, III, the author of the hilariously incisive blog Got Medieval, for this guest post — which originally appeared as part of his decidedly irreverent Medieval Months stroll through the Catholic Church’s quirky calendar of saintly feast days. -ed.)
While not one of the Holy Helpers proper, St. Agatha, whose feast falls on February 5, has special powers to heal ailments of the breasts, on account of having had hers cut off for refusing to worship pagan idols.
Like Bartholomew, she is usually depicted in the unfortunate after state in iconography, carrying her severed breasts before her on a tray or plate.
Because detached breasts sort of resemble bells, she’s the patron saint of bellfounders, and because they also kind of resemble dough, she works double duty as the patron of bakers, too. Oh, and just to be clear, that last sentence isn’t one of those clearly nonsensical sentences I pepper my writing with for purposes of the comedy. Agatha is the patron saint of severed boobs and everything that kind of looks like a severed boob.
The treats on the left are a traditional Catania cassata known as “Agatha’s breasts” or “Virgin breasts” (“Minni di Vergini”). Image (c) Gergely Sipos and used with permission.
On this day..
- 1717: Anna Maria Wagemann, the last witch burned at Fürfeld - 2017
- 1886: Dennis Dilda - 2016
- 1601: Starina Novak, hajduk - 2015
- 1999: Leo Echegaray, by lethal injection in the Philippines - 2014
- 10 executions that defined the 1970s - 2013
- 1862: Samuel Calhoun, antebellum serial killer - 2013
- 1860: John Guthrie, antislavery horse thief - 2012
- 1945: Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe and Violette Szabo - 2010
- 1894: Auguste Vaillant, bomb-throwing anarchist - 2009
- 1597: The 26 Martyrs of Japan, for God and trade routes - 2008
Entry Filed under: Ancient,Arts and Literature,Burned,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,God,Guest Writers,Italy,Martyrs,Myths,Nobility,Other Voices,Religious Figures,Roman Empire,Torture,Uncertain Dates,Women