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Coffee's Patron Saint

SAINT DROGO Feast Day April 16th

Everyone once in a while in a witch's life, they come across a Catholic Saint they can't help but love. For me, that's Saint Drogo. Popularized and made a saint before the church had an official process, Drogo earned his venerated spot by being just a peaceful quirky good dude in the face of some pretty awful hardships. Also, it doesn't hurt that he's the patron saint of coffee. He was officially canonized in the 1600's, but had been venerated long before. The officiality of the status basically made his relics eligible for preservation with the church at the time.

Saint Drogo is a somewhat obscure saint from what is now modern day Belgium. Born March 14, 1105, his mother died in childbirth. His tale states after learning the truth at the age of 10 his sense of guilt and feeling of responsibility for his mother's death was so extreme that he renounced all worldly possessions in penance, took small pilgrimages to holy sites in search of divine forgiveness, and took up work as a shepherd for a while for his young adulthood. It was in this job he discovered he most enjoyed quiet and solitude and he started to lean into the Anchorite style of monastic service. After spending a while as a shepherd & monk in Sebourg, where it is rumored he had the gift of bilocation (the ability to be in two places at once). His growing popularity, and his discomfort with the resulting attention, led to the start of a series of long pilgrimages to Rome (thought to be approx. 8 in total). It is said he traveled to Rome so many times because he truly believed that only the pope could absolve him of the sin of his mother's death. Sadly, he would never get to see the pope. On his last pilgrimage Drogo had developed a hernia so bad it became debilitating and disfiguring. In light of this he retired to his home in Sebourg, built himself a room on the side of the local church, and he shut himself into that cell for the rest of his physical life, save for a window into the church so he could listen to the services, and a small window to the outside, to allow for life's needs (food, water, cleaning), and so he may counsel or comfort those who needed and sought his advice. It is said he lived this way for 30 or more years Saint Drogo passed away quietly on April 16th 1186. His death from the hernia and the complications it brought was slow and painful, however, despite his pain he became known for his cheerful and peaceful personality and was very popular in his town, which, for a hermetic ascetic is quite a feat. He is known as the patron saint for orphans, shepherds, those suffering from bodily affliction and mental illness, those with a disfigured or debilitating appearance (making him the patron saint of "unattractive people" or those ashamed of their body's appearance), and most mysteriously... coffee! COFFEE How did a monk from the 1100's become a patron saint of coffee, which wasn't introduced to Europe until the 15th century, you ask? Nobody officially knows. That being said there are some theories on this puzzle, most believably stemming from the monk's proclivity for exclusively drinking warm water and eating barley as a part of his ascetic diet. Barley, when brewed as tea, had a flavor very similar to coffee. There is some speculation that his patronage of coffee houses and coffee was a modern invention, but there are references from Belgian almanacs in the 1800s that note Drogo as the saint of the country's café keepers. This is likely where Drogo entered the modern zeitgeist as the patron saint of coffee. Additionally, modern baristas who venerate the saint joke about calling in his ability to be in two places at once on a busy day. Personally, I think that the communal atmosphere of a coffee house is also responsible for Drogo's patronage. Although an anchorite monk, Drogo was still very popular due to his happy and relaxed personality. I imagine the gatherings where people would seek his counsel somewhat mirrored that of a mid-day café atmosphere, where people would just stop to appreciate their day, and the sense of community a coffeehouse provides. If you plan on celebrating Saint Drogo's feast day here are some ideas: COFFEE! Anything and everything associated with the magic bean water. Go to a café and people watch while contemplating your role in the community Have a simple meal, mindfully appreciating that which gives you sustenance Visit a local farm with sheep Mirror work & body appreciation work: this is a big one. No matter the state and appearance of your physical vessel you are a worthy soul. And your body has been with you and seen you through all moments in your life, no matter what.


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