Sint Saint

Yes, Oct. 25 is St. Crispin’s Day, as we all know from Shakespeare’s Henry V and that wonderful speech the playwright had the king give before a famous if pointless victory (see It Happened Today, Oct. 25, 2015). But I always wondered if the king had problems with his pronunciation.

As you doubtless recall, Henry initially says “This day is call’d the feast of Crispian” but later speaks of “Crispin’s day” then stammers “Crispin Crispian” before winding up magnificently with “Saint Crispin’s day”. But it turns out there were two of him. Not in the usual a bit confused folklore sense. They were twins. Or at least brothers.

Born to a noble Roman family, they fled to Soissons and preached by day while cobbling by night, which is why they are the patron saints of cobblers, curriers, tanners and leather workers. (Curriers, in case you're curious, took the tanned hide and further treated it to be strong, supple and waterproof before handing it to the guys with scissors, needles, hammers etc.) They so annoyed the local governor by being so pious, upstanding and do-goody that he had millstones tied round their necks and thrown in a river and, after that failed to do them in, the Emperor had them beheaded. Which I guess constitutes failing upward.

Unless they were born in Canterbury and fled to Faversham after their father was beheaded, where they took up cobbling and in some unspecified way later died. At any event they wound up with a plaque there and a pub in nearby Strood.

They were booted out of the universal liturgical calendar following Vatican II, still tied together. But at least they still apparently existed unlike Saint Valentine who might be another guy with the same name.

Anyway, nobody can boot them out of Shakespeare. And now I know why Henry says it two different ways.

I also like the very British name Strood, for what that’s worth.