Saint Bibiana: The patron saint of hangovers

written by Michael Oudyn


It turns out there is a patron saint of hangovers. Santa Bibiana is her name,  preventing hangovers is her game.  Why such an obviously useful saint is virtually unknown is one of the great mysteries of our times.

Saint Bibiana with her magic herbs

Her hagiography goes something like this. Bibiana lived in 4th century Rome with her pious Christian family all of whom were persecuted and/or martyred by the Romans. Our Bibiana, a real looker, steadfastly refused to renounce Christianity so she was handed over to a vicious lesbian called Ruffina who first tried to seduce her and then tried to force her into prostitution. But our Bibiana held firm. So a totally frustrated Ruffina fell into rage and had Bibiana tortured in various hideous ways, including the drinking of molten lead. But Bibiana “endured the torments with joy” and died a martyrs death. “Her body was then left for the dogs, but none would touch her.”  Two days later she was buried.

All this is well and good but how did this teetotaling prodigy of chastity and Christian zealousness become the patron saint of hangovers?

It is said that upon her burial “mysterious and magical herbs” grew up around her grave and that it was these herbs that worked the miracles. A church was built over her grave in Rome. In the Middle Ages pilgrims to the holy site of Santa Bibiana would scrape dust from its columns and eat it which worked the same hangover magic as the original herbs did. Some, heretics no doubt, say the whole thing is nothing more than a harmless little play on words, Bibilus which means “to be fond of drinking” morphs into Bibiana. Or maybe drinking molten lead is the hangover link.

Santa Biliana in Rome. Anyone up for a pilgrimage?

Santa Biliana in Rome. Anyone up for a pilgrimage?

In any case Santa Bibiana has found her way onto several top saints lists. She has been named the third most “useful” saint for Irish people and the sixth “most unusual saint.” Let’s face it, it’s hard to out-unusual the likes of St. Mangus of Fusson, the patron saint of caterpillars, or St. Hubert of Liege who protects us from werewolves. She also turns up #5 on “The best saints for normal guys’ prayers.” St. Fiacre, the saint against STD’s, is #2.

Bibiana with her magic herbs

Bibiana at home in her church with her magic herbs

December 2 is Saint Bibiana’s feast day. Oops, missed it again. But how about making amends next December 2 with a totally spiritual Bibiana booze bash? I suggest we first say a little prayer to this much neglected saint. Then we down copious quantities of Frascati which would honor her Roman origins and definitely put her anti-hangover powers to the test. And why not a glass or two of Chianti Ruffino, in memory of Ruffina, her lesbian tormentor.


A more contemporary look

A more contemporary look at Saint Bibiana.

7 Responses to “Saint Bibiana: The patron saint of hangovers”

  1. Phil Jones Says:

    I believe I’ve had a conversation or two with her during some of my lengthier and harder hangovers of the past. She seems sympathetic, but not too good at curing what ails one.

    • michael oudyn Says:

      She didn’t name by any chance the exact mysterious and magical herbs? That would be useful info. But it is more secret than the Cola Cola recipe. To foil industrial competition?

  2. Nata Samushia Says:

    ostras, hangovers saint, lastima no la conocen en Georgia seria la mas santa de todas las santas 🙂

  3. L'Haejangguk est la potion magique des Coréens pour dire adieu à la gueule de bois | MUNCHIES Says:

    […] de whisky et le lendemain vous voila gratifié d’une bonne gueule de bois. Parce qu’invoquer Sainte Vivianne, la Patronne des lendemains de cuite, dans le petit sanctuaire que vous lui avez consacrée sur […]

  4. Reynaldo Viguerie Says:

    It has actually been one of the best blogs i have checked out. It was really informative.Looking ahead for more blogs of this particular in near future

  5. Opinia Bibian Says:

    Thank you very much for letting me know about my patron saint. My name is Bibiana as a Catholic girl, I away searched for information about who my patron saint is and what her life was and what she did. At last I found them all here. Am happy. I wish I would get an opportunity to go to Rome n visit the church build after her name. God bless you.

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