Saints and random worldbuilding speculations…

I’m still obsessed with saints for some reason. St. Viperfish is in the process of being gold-leafed as we speak. (Needs more gold leaf! There is never enough gold on a saint icon, damnit!) Unfortunately, I’m out of rubber gloves, so the next pass will have to wait.

Lacking latex gloves, I am forced to read about the lives of saints instead. (And if I had a nickel for every time I’ve uttered THAT phrase…)

Some personal and thoroughly random favorites:

St. Sithney — Misogynist. The legend goes that God wanted St. Sithney to be the patron saint of girls seeking husbands. The saint swore he’d never get any rest at all, and would rather be the patron of mad dogs then women. God agreed.

St. Kevin — He was praying during Lent with his arms outstretched, when a blackbird laid an egg in his palm. He held this position until the egg hatched.

St. Dunstan — Patron of blacksmiths and swordsmiths. Pierced the nose of the Devil with a pair of hot tongs.

St. Eligius — removed a horse’s leg in order to shoe it more easily. Because he was a saint rather than a raving bloody psychotic,* I’ll assume he put it back later.

Reading “Perdido Street Station” which, plot asides, is primarily about the foul and fascinating city, and this protracted maundering about with saints has given me weird ideas for a city run by, or at least defined by, weird saints.

Now, the primary job of saints is largely protective–they keep bad things away, and you generally invoke them when dealing with a specific issue related to their experitise. Saints are basically a protective, warding, helpful kinda thing.

So suppose you had a place where something bad had gone down, and left the fantasy equivalent of smoking nuclear wreckage (although with the fun twisty and melty and toothy magicky bits that are always entertaining) and the only way that people could live there any more was by using the saints to make little islands of normalcy. How you get a saint–invoke one, canonize one, make one up–I’m not sure, and possibly it doesn’t really matter. Traditionally you get saints by all those methods anyway, and the actual saint isn’t nearly so important as the layers of story and weird imagery associated with it. They’re not like gods, they’re a seperate order of things. So you beg, borrow, or steal yourself a saint–doesn’t have to be a person, probably easier if it isn’t, St. Rock and St. Viperfish are, for our purposes, just as effective as anybody else–and the saint makes things normal.

But you can only get so much normal space out of a saint, and of course your saint needs upkeep, so you’d have hundreds of saints, and a city covered in little shrines with random offerings tucked in every corner. So it’s very much a patchwork–every time you get a bad spot, you have to slap a saint on it, like duct tape, and sometimes saints die, and sometimes they split and schism and turn into fifty other mini-saints, who are mostly identical. If your saint dies, I suspect you’re in serious trouble–the badness never went away, after all, since duct tape doesn’t fix anything, it’s just being pinned down under sheer weight of divinity. So you can probably tell when saints are getting old, or fading, or senile or whatever, so you can bring in a new one.

And bad areas are going to take saints who need a lot of upkeep, and really bad areas are so permeated with the badness (whatever the hell it is) that the saints get warped and twisted themselves, and so in your slums, you get mad saints who require sacrifices of self-mutilation and, oh, live puppies or something, whereas in the nice areas they’re content with incense and flower petals.

And icon painters are a major industry.

This is how I amuse myself while gardening. It may never go anywhere, but it’s a fun thought, anyway.

*The line is occasionally fine. St. Christina the Astonishing comes to mind.

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