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A patron saint is an individual who is viewed in certain religions as a protector of some activity or group. Patron saints have been established since early times and are often chosen because of some event, story, or the traits of the person being venerated.
Male and female patron saints of bird watchers include St. Gall, Patron Saint of Birds; St. Milburga, Female Patron Saint of Birds; and St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Bird Watchers. All three of these saints were known for their love of birds and nature.
Three people were declared patron saints that are of interest when it comes to birds and bird watchers. St. Gall is the patron saint of birds, St. Millburga is the female patron saint of birds, and St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of bird watchers.
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What Is A Patron Saint?
It is a good idea first to understand what is meant by a patron saint before learning who the patron saints of birds and bird watchers are.
A patron saint is someone who is considered (after their death) to be a heavenly protector or advocate. It can be a patron saint of a place, person or persons, activity, wildlife, environment, or nation.
Patron saints are, historically, a part of the following religious groups: Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.
St. Gall, Patron Saint Of Birds
St. Gall was born in Ireland in 550 and died in 646. He is purported to have traveled with Columbanus around Europe. St. Gall was educated at a monastery in Northern Ireland and is largely credited with helping to introduce people throughout Europe to the Christian faith.
St. Gall was a monk who, legend has it, helped establish a settlement with the help of a bear. It is said that the bear became a close friend of St. Gall and helped St. Gall with his activities.
St. Gall was known to have a close relationship with nature and animals. It is not too surprising then that he eventually became the patron saint of birds.
There is also a particular story about how St. Gall became the patron saint of birds. The story goes that St. Gall performed an exorcism on a woman who was set to marry the King of the Franks. In the course of the exorcism, it was said that a black bird flew out of the woman’s mouth. This was thought to be the demon leaving her body.
This was the first time that St. Gall became associated, specifically, with birds. There is a St. Gall feast day celebrated every year on October 16; there is also an abbey of St. Gall, founded in 720.
St. Milburga, Female Patron Saint Of Birds
St. Milburga was venerated as the patron saint of all birds, both domesticated and wild. She was venerated because of a story that was told. The story goes that there was a farmer who was having his crop destroyed by a flock of birds. Milburga started praying, and soon, the flock of birds left the crop and flew off.
It seemed that Milburga had this power to control birds, and she was, after death, venerated as the female patron saint of birds. Milburga founded a monastery at Wenlock in Shropshire, UK.
She was not the only member of her family to become a saint and, in fact, her mother and two sisters were also venerated as saints.
St. Milburga was a Christian nun. Her birth was sometime in the 7th century, and her death was in 727. She was believed to be a healer who could perform miracles. There is a feast of St. Milburga, which is celebrated on February 23.
Milburga chose to be a nun and dedicated her life to helping the sick and the poor. She stayed at Much Wenlock Abbey during her life. This was destroyed, and sadly, her tomb was also ransacked and her bones destroyed.
St. Francis Of Assisi: Patron Saint Of Bird Watchers
There are stories about St. Francis and wild birds. One story is that he preached to birds that seemed to appear and gather around him as he walked from one place to another. St. Francis loved nature and all animals, including birds, so it makes sense that he would eventually be venerated as a patron saint of bird watchers.
St. Francis was born and named Giovanni in Assisi (an Italian town) in about 1181 to a French mother and an Italian father. He founded the Franciscans, an order of Christianity that is known for living a simple life.
St. Francis vowed to live a life of poverty, to visit various cities, and to preach all along the way. Francis died in 1226 and was given sainthood in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX.
History Of Bird Watching
It is interesting to learn not only about the patron saints of birds and bird watchers but also a bit about the history of bird watching. The first time the term bird watching was used was in the late 18th century. This term was used by the British ornithologist Edmund Selous.
He was against the popular idea of hunting birds for study purposes and believed you could study birds by watching them.
Interest in natural history and birds became prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era. Unfortunately, the collecting of eggs and bird skins was popular. Later, protection was put in place by the founding of the Audubon Society in America and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the U.K.
Today there are many organizations and laws in different countries that have been put in place to protect wild birds from exploitation and decimation. The patron saints can also be viewed as protectors of the birds and those who like to bird watch.
There are three patron saints that it is useful to learn about if you are interested in birds. St. Gall is the patron saint of birds, and St. Milburga is the female patron saint of birds.
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of bird watchers. Patron saints are not the only protectors of birds; so are various organizations and laws.
TIP: Knowing how to spot the birds in your yard is key to enjoying visits from your winged friends as much as possible! The best sources are trusted books, I recommend using the following (Amazon links):
– National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
– National Audubon Society Birds of North America