Friday, May 9, 2014

The Headless Saint

How to keep your head? In you hands!
Saint Solange was born in the 9th century near Bourges, France, to a family of poor but very devout Christians. Growing up, she herded sheep and devoted herself to Christ at the age of seven. She was considered so holy that her mere presence as a child healed people and exorcised devils.

One day in the year 880, while tending her sheep, a young man (some legends say it was Bernard, the son of the Count of Poitiers, who has been mentioned briefly in this blog as Bernard Plantapilosa) approached her, making advances which she rebuffed. So Bernard did what any entitled nobility would do (whose mother wrote books of advice that her sons probably never received): he drew his sword and cut off her head.

Her head said "Jesus" three times, then her body picked it up and walked to the church of Saint-Martin in the village of Saint-Martin-du-Crot and dropped dead. Saint-Martin-du-Crot is now known as Sainte-Solange. A cult of veneration developed around her relics—particularly her head—and pilgrims came for miraculous cures. Her head was used in processions through the town when drought threatened.

She is a patron saint of victims of sexual assault. Her feast day is 10 May.

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