June 3rd.  St Kevin’s Day

St Kevin of Glendalough (Wikipedia)

Thank you very much to my subscriber for alerting me to my Saint’s Day. I was aware of St Kev and that the name meant ‘of noble birth’ but that’s was the extent of my knowledge.

But a little research on Wikipedia while on the train to visit my Dad, has revealed that Kev lived to the grand old age of 120, born in 498 and died in 628.  As my Dad is 96 and still going strong, maybe he and St Kevin will inspire my longevity!

Briefly, St Kevin met the great St. Columba; had a poem written about him by the marvelous Seamus Heaney (https://poetryarchive.org/poem/st-kevin-and-blackbird/); a song by the Dubliners; several mentions by James Joyce and a long distance path, part of the Camino de Santiago network, the St Kevin’s Way, named after him. The weather for all of June can be predicted: ‘The weather on St Kevin Day will last all month’

Live recording of Dubliners’ Song about St Kevin

Coemgen, as he is known in Irish, was a hermit, living in a cave-like ledge above a lake.  His piety attracted followers and a monastic settlement.  He was known for his ascetic life and love for nature.  So, a role model for us Kevins?

His hagiography was written very late so little of it can be confirmed. But, like other saintly hermits, he is associated with being tempted by women or the devil disguised as a woman.  (St. Anthony the Great, St. Benedict of Nursia, Saint Chrysanthus, St. Vitus,  St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Hilary etc.)  Unfortunately, rather than just resisting his temptress, Coemgen is said to have drowned her.

On the other hand, my sister sent me this photo of a souvenir from a shop in Northumberland.

So, not a role model for modern times, but clearly we, handsome, clever, positive, analytical Kevins have a lot going for us, despite the name.

For more on the Temptations of Hermits:

Nechita, Andrea.“Offering Body, Pleasure, and Wealth: The Visual Representation of Women Tempting Saints (Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century).” Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU, 20 (2014): 96-112. For a summary, and some tempting illustrations, look here.

First written in 2023. revised June 2024


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