Did you know that Leo The Great was the patron saint of musicians and singers? Or that St. Joseph is the protector of attorneys (as if they needed any outside help), or that St. John Nepomucene keeps a lookout over sailors?
I picked up a nifty book about saints at the Oak Bluffs library, and combed the pages to find some pertinent guardians for us townies: St. Andrew is the patron saint of fishermen, and Saint Lucy of electricians, eye doctors, and the blind (I don’t know about you, but I’d feel funny about an optometrist who had an icon of St. Lucy in his or her office: maybe eye doctors and blind people should honor two distinctly separate saints.) St. Stephen looks after pavers, which is apt considering all the recent work on our streets. Interestingly, Stephen is also invoked for the easing of migraines, a condition these same pavers caused when they jack-hammered our roads in the midnight hours.
St. John of the Cross watches over mystics, theologians and poets. Oak Bluffs is low on poets, now that my friend, Linda Black, has defected to Vineyard Haven. Most of the Island’s poets live in West Tisbury or Chilmark, the better to write about sunlight dappling the leaves of mulberry trees, a daffodil poking through the frozen ground, and a gull’s wing vibrating in flight — all the key elements that make modern poetry so continuously engrossing — but we do, here in town, have the brightly garbed, hortatory Zeus whom I’ve long thought of as the poet laureate of Circuit avenue, so we’re still in the game.
St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of tourists; you can bet a lot of O.B. retailers, hoteliers, and restaurateurs have paid homage to him, whether they’ve realized it or not. St. Eligius has got the backs of garage workers, St. Charles Boromeo starch-makers (this could have all kinds of ramifications), St. John of Capestrano jurists (have you received one of those annoying summons recently?), St. Vitus of actors and dancers, and St. Vincent de Paul watches over charitable groups (as I peer at his portrait, he looks remarkably like . . . can it be? . . . Ron DiOrio.)
St. Cornelius is the protector of bovines which makes me wonder if a cow is masticating anywhere within the town borders. Seems to me that, like poets, bovines are a bountiful product of West Tis and Chilmark. That means that St. Saturnius of Toulouse, patron saint of bullfights, might also be marked not available for Oak Bluffs: If we haven’t got even a single cow, there is in all likelihood a shortage of bulls in the vicinity.
St. Jerome covers librarians (this one’s for you, Dunguole, Matthew, Irene, Pam, Anita and company), St. Pantaleon of doctors and St. Camillus de Lellis nurses (this takes care of the multitudinous staff at the hospital), St. Augustine of printers (Dennis and Tony daRosa take notice), and St. Gregory the Great of button-makers, teachers, and popes (any popes in this burg?) St. Rita of Cascia is the patron saint of grocers and salami vendors (take it away, Bobby Pachico), and St. Benedict presides over speleologists.
What is a speleologist, you might ask? Well, after a quick check in the dictionary, I’ve learned that a speleologist (once you’ve got it in your teeth, you can’t say the word enough!) is a scientist who studies caves.
I know I can’t cover everyone, so I’ll finish the survey course with a few saints who preside over all of us: St. Justin is the patron saint of philosophers, something we all have a tendency to be, especially after three appletinis on New Year’s Eve or when seated in a hairdresser’s or barber’s chair (and by the way, St. Cosmas is the patron saint of the folk who snip the hair of the followers of St. Justin.) The following saint stands for all Islanders: St. Gratus of Aosta, protector of vineyards. And finally we come to my favorite, Leonard of Noblac, patron saint of the insane. Admit it, we’re all especially nutty, hunkered down on the Island at this time of the year, all of us a mite jealous of those Vineyarders dispersed to other places, free to be insane anywhere they go. So here’s to St. Leonard, wherever we’ve chosen to stay or to wander.
Someone named Shmoopie has e-mailed us about planning for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life on Martha’s Vineyard. The kick-off meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the hospital cafeteria. Anyone interested in forming a team is invited to participate. The relay is scheduled for June 13 and 14. For more info, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, Shmoopie’s real name is Amy Sullivan, and let’s not rest until we’ve spent time teasing her!
At the library, the following events are planned: today, Friday, Feb. 1 at 3:30 p.m.: Story Time for 6 to 10-year-olds, Groundhog Day. On Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m.: Corduroy the teddy bear visits. (Actually visits? Get out!) On Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m., there’ll be Pre-School Story Time with a snow books theme and crafts.
I don’t often mention birthdays in this column, but two of my favorite sentient beings in Oak Bluffs are having birthdays this week: David Madeiros and Huxley, my dog!
And just for their information, their patron saint is St. Hyacintha Mariscott.