Monday, April 15, 2013

SAINTS IN THE KITCHEN

Clare Cresap Villa

Based on the course of their lives and the circumstances surrounding them, saints often serve as "patrons" of certain peoples, places, things, and occupations, as they intercede for us before God.

A few years ago, I did a collage of  KITCHEN SAINTS, ie. saints who are patrons of cooks and chefs.  After much digging I found over 30 patrons of cooks, bakers and chefs. I gave it to Mother Catarina for Christmas and it now hangs in our large preserving kitchen on the farm.



Among the many patrons are:

St. Martha who prepared the meal as her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. In spite of her complaints, Martha is known for her humility in her service to her Lord.

St. Lawrence, one of seven deacons under Pope St. Sixtus,  was condemned to death by the Prefect of Rome.  The story goes that as he was being grilled, he called out to those torturing him saying, ” Turn me over, I’m done on this side!”. Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic Faith may spread all over the world.  Just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.”

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is patroness of bakers because she gave food, especially bread, to the poor.

St. Francis Caracciolo is the patron of  chefs. Founder of the Clerics Regular Minor, he is an example of Eucharistic devotion for the nourishment of our souls.

St. Hildegard von Bingen had many ideas on how to eat healthily. Today, there is a revivalist culture around her teachings on how to eat to stay healthy, especially information of her medicinal and herbal remedies. She is called Germany's "first foodie".

In the Orthodox Church, we have St. Euphrosynus the Cook, a simple man, but a man of God. He served as the cook in a monastery in Palestine in the ninth century. One night, the spiritual father of this monastery saw himself in Paradise, and saw Euphrosynus there as well. Euphrosynus picked and gave him three apples from Paradise. When the spiritual father awoke, he saw three unusually beautiful and fragrant apples by his pillow. He quickly found Euphrosynus and asked him: "Where were you last night, brother"?  "I was where you were, father,'' he replied.

St. Euphrosynus
The spiritual father then revealed the entire incident to the monks, and all recognized the sanctity and godliness of Euphrosynus. But Euphrosynus, fearing the praise of men, immediately fled the monastery and hid in the wilderness, where he spent the remainder of his life."

Even Dorothy Day, is mentioned as patroness of cooks due to her life of feeding the poor in our own country.

Perhaps the most famous (at least in our culture) is SAN PASQUEL (St. Paschal Baylon). He was a 16th century Spanish shepherd who became a Franciscan lay brother. He served his fellow Franciscans in various capacities in the monastery as shepherd, gardener, porter, and cook. Since childhood he had developed a deep sense of the presence of God and was particularly devoted to the Eucharist. San Pascual was known for his administrations to the poor and for his many miraculous cures.


Arturo Olivas
Gustavo V. Goler
Today San Pascual is chiefly known as a patron of the kitchen due to his work as a cook. Often in religious art he is shown dressed in the brown robes of a Franciscan with a cat at his side ( my favorite by C.C. Villa he holds a lamb).

The lovely thing about St. Paschal is the grace of recollection which often absorbed him as he went about his duties. Deeply united to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, he was on occasion favored with the grace of seeing the Holy Eucharist when unable to be present in church.

I find it interesting that early paintings do not show him in the kitchen but rather kneeling in rapt contemplation of the Eucharistic host suspended mid-air in a monstrance.

19th Century

19th C. Mexican
 In the USA his image has become an ubiquitous element of “Santa Fe-inspired” d├ęcor.
Many are rendered in the traditional New Mexico Santo or religious Saint style. Santos have been depicted in this folk art style since the late 18th century.


Ann Burt
Virginia M. Romero
Victoria de Almeida

Jan Oliver








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