Today is March 20th, and most right-thinking people will of course be celebrating the anniversary of Yoko Onoâ€™s marriage to a whining, bespectacled Liverpudlian pop singer, which took place back in 1969. But amid the carousing, let us not forget that today is also the feast day of Saint Wulfram (circa 640-703). Wulfram is one of the few saints to share his name with a metallic element, in his case a very hard, heavy, steel-gray to white transition metal also known as tungsten. Pedants may point out that wolfram the metal is spelled with an O whereas Wulfram the saint is spelled with a U, and they would be correct, but such orthographical nit-picking, while valuable, need not concern us here.
Saint Wulfram of Fontenelle, whose life was recorded for us after his death by Jonas of Fontenelle, protects those in danger upon the sea. In art, he is usually depicted in the act of baptising a young king, or the son of King Radbod of Frisia. Radbod is not a name you come across very often these days, which is a pity. I think I would be much more likely to buy one of those magazines such as Heat or Hello or Pap if, on the cover, it said â€œInside â€“ Big News About Radbod!â€ But I digress.
There are some lines from The Saga Of King Olaf by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which are often recited by those of us who wish to commemorate Saint Wulfram, or indeed to implore him for help if we are imperilled upon the sea, perhaps assailed by howling gales on the poop deck as gigantic waves crash repeatedly against our fragile ship. Longfellow wrote:
To the ship’s bow he ascended, By his choristers attended, Round him were the tapers lighted, And the sacred incense rose.
On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd, In his robes as one transfigured, And the Crucifix he planted
I think we can all agree that such resonant words are more likely to give us succour than the doggerel penned by Yoko Onoâ€™s late husband, mentioned earlier.
So on this day, let us remember Saint Wulfram, and King Radbod too. I sincerely hope that, if any new parents give birth to a baby boy on this special day, they might see fit to call their child Wulfram, or Radbod, or both.
Whilst broadly agreeing with your sentiments, I find that when, on the numerous occasions that I have been imperiled on the sea, shouting HELP! at the top of my voice tends to be a little more effective that offering up invocations to St. Wulfram….