Wednesday, 19 August 2015

19th August

Sebaldus (Sebald, Sinibaldo)

Patron Saint of Nuremberg, of Bavaria, and of those who experience cold weather

Almost all details of the life of Sebaldus are uncertain apart from him living in a forest near Nuremberg. Some say he was a Frankish nobleman who became a missionary. Others claim he was the son of the king of Denmark. And some believe him to be a student who married a French princess, but abandoned her on their wedding night to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. Some even believe he was born in England!

Whatever the insecure historicity of Sebaldus might be, he has been long associated with Nuremberg, which then became a place of pilgrimage. Many children born there bore the saint’s name. In 1508-19, Peter Vischer the Elder and his sons fabricated a Late Gothic bronze tomb in the Church of St. Sebaldus, considered a masterpiece of the German Renaissance. In Italy, where he is venerated as San Sinibaldo, an altar was dedicated to him in the Venetian church of San Bartolomeo sul Rialto.

Amongst the stories surrounding this surprisingly mysterious man:

  • he converted stones to bread and water to wine to feed his fellow missionaries
  • he burned icicles as firewood in the dead of winter to keep the poor from freezing
  • when he was being heckled by a profane blasphemer, Sebaldus prayed, and the earth opened up to swallow the pagan; as he fell into the earth, the heckler asked for forgiveness; he was spat back out
  • when a poor peasant was blind by his lord, Sebaldus restored the man’s missing eyes by praying over him