May 092019

Today is the feast day of two saints named Beatus: Beatus of Vendôme and Beatus of Lungern who might be the same person, neither of whom may have existed at all.  Their stories are fragmentary, overlapping, and mostly hard to believe. Tomorrow is the 6th birthday of this blog and after that I am going to cease posting routinely, so ending substantive posts today with the celebration of someone who probably did not exist (in multiple ways), seems like a suitably surreal slow fade into the sunset.

Beatus of Lungern, also known as the Apostle of Switzerland, could have been the son of a Scottish king, or could have been born in Ireland in the 1st century CE. His legend states that he was a convert to Christianity, baptized in England by Saint Barnabas. He was allegedly ordained a priest in Rome by Saint Peter the Apostle, whereupon he was sent with a companion named Achates to evangelize the tribe of the Helvetii. The two set up a camp in Argovia near the Jura Mountains, where they converted many of the locals. Beatus then ventured south to the mountains above Lake Thun, taking up a hermitage in what is now known as St. Beatus Caves, near the village later called Beatenberg. Tradition states that he fought a dragon in one of these caves.

Saint Beatus’ grave is located between an Augustinian monastery and the cave entrance. He died at an old age in 112 CE.

Beatus of Vendôme is commonly known as Saint Bienheuré. Tradition states that he lived in a cave near the town of Vendôme also occupied by a dragon. His legend states that Bienheuré fasted and prayed before fighting the dragon. According to the legend, the dragon was so large that when it went to drink from a river at some distance away, its tail still lay in its cave. It was also so large that it drained the Loir when it drank from it. There are three versions of this combat: the first states that the dragon fled at the sight of Saint Bienheuré; the second version states that Saint Bienheuré defeated the dragon with one blow from his staff; the third states that the dragon strangled itself with its chain.

Bienheuré is identified with a missionary who traveled and preached in Garonne, Laon, and Nantes, besides Vendôme, and his place of death is claimed to have been Chevresson, near Laon. A chapel dating from the 5th century was built on the hillside where he is said to have lived.

For a recipe I give you this video which is actually a contest between 2 chefs to make a meal for a unicorn proposed by a 9 yr old girl.  Seems imaginary enough to round out tales of dragons in caves: