Patron saints of beer, pray for us

Patron saints of beer, pray for us August 20, 2009

OK, now for something that we can all agree on. Over the past couple of days I have been trading emails with a Catholic theologian who is also a home brewer. He recently published a new book, and so I congratulated him and said that it was now time to kick back with one of his brews and relax. I attached the text of the following “Blessing of Beer” from the Roman Missal:

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And With Your Spirit.

Let us pray.
Lord, bless + this creature, beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.”

In his response, he included the following prayer/poem from St. Brigid of Ireland:

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

In searching out some information on the prayer, I came across this “Saints of Suds” page. Legend has it that St. Brigid worked in a leper colony and when the place ran out of beer and those under her care begged her for more, she transformed her bathwater into beer.

There are multiple stories about St. Arnold of Metz that involve beer. Here are two of them:

According to legend he ended a plague when he submerged his crucifix into a brew kettle and persuaded people to drink only beer from that “blessed” kettle. He is reported to have said “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world”.

There are multiple versions of a tale about his providing beer to the people. The story is told of porters moving his body after building a tomb for his relics/bones for people to visit. A tired porter overcome with heat uttered a plea to God for a cool refreshing beer. No sooner had this request been made than copious amounts of cold beer shot out of the casket they carried, drenching all and quenching their thirst.

God’s design for health care reform? Maybe not. But certainly the legends of these “beer saints” represent one more small way in which the sacramentality of Catholicism has expressed itself in our traditions. And they certainly could be added to the long list of reasons why I would not trade my Catholicism for anything.

Many many (MANY!) more examples are listed on the webpage.

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