Saint Bastard, Patron Saint of Football Referees, Lost Luggage and Cock-ups
"What have you been reading, the Gospel According to Saint Bastard?" - Eddie Izzard
The only saint without a fixed feast day, little is known about Saint Bastard's early life. It is believed that he was born in the troubled border area of either Wales or Scotland, though some authorities have placed him in Cornwall. What is known is that he was born on 1st April, sometime between 448 and 452 CE. His mother was a shepherdess, but his patrilineal line is unknown, predictably enough.
He certainly grew up to be an arrogant and troublesome youth, and was ejected from his village in his early teens for his continual verbal abuse of the villagers and for stealing from the few travellers that dared roam into the area. Afterward he roamed the countryside, supporting himself by stealing sheep, until he stumbled upon Saint Trinian in Scotland. The story goes that the young man approached the saint and asked him for bread, at which point Trinian offered him the bread of life. Upset by this, he threw the cleric into a ditch, stripped him of his robes and belongings, and continued to the next village. The following day, Trinian saw him stealing eggs from a henhouse, and after upbraiding him for his wrongdoing and beating him in a wrestling match, took charge of him, promising to keep him fed on the proviso that he carry the saint's chattels on his preaching tour. Bastard agreed, and followed the saint for many years, all the while struggling to contain his loathing for his fellow man. Despite this, he continued until Trinian's death at the hands of an angry Cumbrian mob when he tried to build a church on the site of a village's pagan altar.
Following his master's demise, he decided to ditch the priest's belongings and continue to preach and build churches, which had thus far sustained him quite well. However, to his lasting dismay he found that he could not put down Trinian's pack. It had grown heavier over the years and came to be a growing burden to the would-be saint. Becoming increasingly disenchanted with this, he finally left the mendicant life and settled in a monastery in Northumbria, where he helped to extend the building originally erected by his former teacher. As it happened, he was no better as a mason than he had been a spiritual sheep, and many of his edifices collapsed through poor design or construction. Despite the continual building disasters the monks kept him on, impressed by the mantle that had fallen to him from the founder of their abbey.
Only one miracle is attributed to Saint Bastard. During a Saxon raid on the monastery, he came out of his cell and shouted abuse from the hilltop at the invaders, until they stood as one man and faced him. At this, he stooped to pick up a piece of masonry, which he hurled with unerring accuracy at the chieftain's head, killing him outright. As he fell, he rolled down the hill through the Saxon baggage, crushing every last piece. The Saxons fled, and at that moment, the pack fell from Bastard's shoulders, and the monks gathered around him. As the burden was lifted from him however, he gave one last mighty shout, and expired.
Saint Bastard's Day Today
Of course, in these enlightened times, nobody believes a word of this tale. Nonetheless, Saint Bastard's Day is real. Although you won't find it on any calendar, you will find it in many diaries and journals. James Boswell, for instance, referred to this day on February 18, 1768 following a great and painful humiliation. George III noted in his diary on 4th July, 1776, that the new colony were "rebellious bastards, on that Saint's own day". The story that the King wrote "Nothing of importance happened today" is an urban legend, started by an X‑Files episode.
It's certainly true that travelling on this day is likely to end in minor disaster. Not that Saint Bastard is any sort of anti-Saint Christopher, but an example is the day that Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 building opened on 28 March 2008. Hundreds of people boarded their planes with only hand luggage, following the massive breakdown of the baggage handling system.
Christine and I have also been known to invoke Saint Bastard on a few occasions. For example, during a recent vacation to the Northern Ontario, we had friends stay in a neighbouring cabin. When they told us they wanted to leave the following day, we dissuaded them with tales of what might happen to their luggage during the boat trip into town. Thankfully, they took the appropriate action and stayed an extra day. Admittedly, we lied about it being Saint Bastard's Day on the morrow, because that's the point - there is no predicting it.
Saint Bastard has a habit of intervening quite frequently. Yesterday was clearly Bastard's Day, given that I was suspended from work at a time I could least afford it, mentally, emotionally and financially. This was after I had been called into work on my day off for the disciplinary meeting. Saint Bastard, irascible old bugger that he is, still hurls brickbats at humanity whenever he can, so remember that today may be fine, but tomorrow could be a complete bastard.
It's funny what you find while wangling the silliest of information out of the internet. There's a band named "Saint Bastard", a couple of blogs, one of which is quite decent reading. It also turns out there's rather a nice font called "Bastard", a contemporary blackletter
font. Links given below.