Archive for the ‘Wine Saints’ Category

Saint Bibiana: The patron saint of hangovers

February 13, 2015

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? (more…)

Santa Nino, the wine saint of Georgia

December 18, 2013

Santa Nino and her “living cross”

written by Michael Oudyn

I first heard the story of Santa Nino, the charming Georgian wine saint, over a nice glass of Georgian wine at a wine-tourism convention in Umbria .  Back in Barcelona my Georgian friend Nata Samushia enthusiastically confirmed the basic story and filled in a few details.

The consensus hagiography goes something like this.  Santa Nino was from Cappadoccia, in Turkey.  While in a religious trance the Virgin Mary  gave her a double mission: convert Georgia to Christianity and introduce the Georgians to wine.  She also gave her a cross made out of grapevines.  Once out of the trance the future santa secured the cross  with a lock of her own hair, forming “a living cross” of grapevine and human hair.  Once in Georgia she converted the Queen to Christianity.  But King Mirian III refused to give up his paganism and was on the point of persecuting the Christians until he was struck with blindness and “lost in  darkness ” while on a hunting trip.  He prayed to “Nino’s God” and “the light returned.”  He (more…)

Saint Trifon the Pruner, Bulgaria’s Patron Saint of the Vinegrowers and Winemakers

February 20, 2011
St Trifon the Pruner with shears and nose

St Trifon with nose

written by Michael Oudyn

What saint do you immediately associate with February 14?  If you are not Bulgarian the answer is most certainly St. Valentine.  If you are Bulgarian another one might come to mind: Saint Trifon the Pruner, the patron saint of vine-growers and wine-producers whose pruning shears are the symbol of wine and fertility in Bulgaria.   Trifon is also called “the drunkard” because of his excessive love of red wine and “the noseless” because of a little encounter he had with the Virgin Mary.  According to popular legend,  Trifon was pruning his humble vineyard one day when The Mother of God happened by.  The future saint (hungover?) mocked and taunted her, saying she didn´t even know who the father of her son was.  The Virgin took offense and ordered Trifon to cut off his nose with his pruning shears, which he promptly did. Two questions come to my mind:  (1) Isn´t this an odd road to sainthood? (2) What would Dr. Freud think about having a man with a cut-off nose as a symbol of fertility?  (more…)