25th March is the Feast Day of Saint Genevieve, the Patchwork Saint.

Legend has it that her convent was threatened by an enormous beast, frequently portrayed as a human-headed bull or manticore. It is said that the animals of the stable, horse and donkey, cow and ox and chickens and even the small birds in the garden came to her and offered their skins. How exactly they did this is not clear, although iconography shows it as a rather bloodless affair with the animals shrugging their hides off as if wearing coats. She sewed their hides together with every bit of cloth in the convent, into the shape of a dragon, placing the altar cloth over the beast's heart. The nuns of the convent stuffed the dragon with straw and it came to life and fought the monster threatening their home. The monster was defeated and the saint carefully unstitched her work, giving each animal back its skin in turn. There is a folk legend that the section of the dragon containing the turkey's head-feathers was damaged in the battle and the turkey's face has been naked ever since, but this is obviously a fanciful legend. Icons of Saint Genevieve portray her as a woman with clock and cowl, wielding a needle, with an enormous patchwork dragon in the background.


Episode for 2019-03-25

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