When John Foxe published Actes And Monuments, popularly known as the Book of Martyrs, in 1563, he unaccountably neglected to mention St Spivack. This is a great pity, as St Spivack was one of the holiest and most pious of men, whose life we would do well to study. I have studied it in excessive detail, and as a result I am holier and more pious than I was before, though nowhere near as holy and pious as St Spivack himself of course. Nor have I been martyred by being poked at with burning pincers and plunged into a barrel of boiling tar. I fervently hope that will not be my fate, but if things turn out that way, I shall have the example of St Spivack to cling to, and I will do my best to sing rousing hymns in a strong, resounding falsetto, as St Spivack did, winning the grudging admiration of his unholy and impious tormentors.
He was born in rustic squalor in a barn in some sordid backwater during the Dark Ages. His parents were simple peasants. Actually, the word “simple” does not suffice. Let us rephrase that sentence. His parents were profoundly ignorant peasants. No, that is still not enough. Again. His parents were profoundly ignorant, staggeringly stupid peasants. I think to drive the point home we need to have one more go. His parents were profoundly ignorant, staggeringly stupid, breathtakingly dimwitted peasants. That will do. They were so ignorant and stupid and dimwitted that one Dark Ages day, when he was but a year old, they mislaid their infant in the woods, and completely forgot about his existence. Poor little St Spivack!
He was raised by squirrels. Ever after, those he met were struck, not just by his holiness and his piety, but by a certain squirrely something in his demeanour. He had an extremely high metabolic rate and ate a lot of nuts.
At the age of ten, he was discovered in the woods by a sycamore-climbing monk from the nearby monastery of St Dippy’s. This monk took the holy and pious child with him, and at the monastery he astounded the abbot by reciting from memory the entire book of Ecclesiastes, first in the original Hebrew, then in Greek, then in Latin, then in the language of squirrels. He took holy orders on his eleventh birthday.
When he was twelve St Spivack left the monastery and set off on a pilgrimage. Wherever he stopped, he preached, and his sermons converted many an ignorant and stupid and dimwitted peasant to the faith. Most of his sermons consisted of glosses on passages from Ecclesiastes, though on occasion he would describe visions.
It was in the village of Vig, hard by the banks of the Vug, that St Spivack was describing a vision one day when he was arrested by the henchmen of a baron. This baron was an unholy and impious wretch, and he tossed St Spivack into an oubliette in his castle. There were many ants and beetles in the dungeon, and St Spivack befriended them. He passed the horrible days and weeks by making little sets of rosary beads for the ants and beetles from grains of unspeakable matter found upon the oubliette floor.
On Easter Sunday one year in the Dark Ages, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Spivack in the gloom of the oubliette. She handed him a pair of spectral gleaming holy tweezers with which he was able to effect his escape. It was at this time that light began to pour out from St Spivack. This was the light that blinded the evil baron and his henchmen as they tried to recapture their holy and pious prisoner.
St Spivack continued on his pilgrimage through the benighted lands of the Dark Ages. In his train there followed squirrels and ants and beetles. One day he performed the miracle that guaranteed his sainthood, though in all honesty it should never have been in doubt. (It is said that when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints met to decide on his canonisation, the priest taking the part of the Devil’s Advocate, to argue against, suffered an attack of the withers just as he was about to speak. This was rightly taken as another sign of St Spivack’s saintliness.) The miracle took place in the village of Vug, hard by the banks of the Vig. St Spivack produced out of thin air a bouquet of lupins and rhododendrons, and by waving it in significant passing movements over a crone, cured the crone of a foul and sickening malady, a debilitating palsy or ague to which Dark Ages crones were forever falling prey.
On St Bibblybibdib’s Day one year, later in the Dark Ages, St Spivack arrived in Pointy Town at the end of his pilgrimage. He was enthroned as bishop in the pointiest church in Pointy Town. He continued to pour forth an unearthly blinding light. Squirrels and ants and beetles had the run of the episcopal palace, pointier than the pointiest church in Pointy Town. St Spivack by now could recite from memory several other books of the Bible, in several languages, and often did so in everyday conversation. A Dark Ages scribe copied down many of his after-dinner monologues to create what we now know as the Codex of St Spivack.
One year in the Dark Ages, on St Dippy’s Day, into Pointy Town came galloping the blind baron and his blind henchmen, astride their seeing horses. They laid siege to the bishop’s palace and slaughtered all the squirrels and ants and beetles and they dragged St Spivack from his dinner table, where he was eating nuts. Then they had at him with burning pincers and they plunged him into a barrel of boiling tar. St Spivack sang rousing hymns in a strong, resounding falsetto, and then he died. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared and carried him up to heaven.
His tarry bones were buried in a tar pit, which is today the site of the Blister Lane Bypass.
That is the life of the holy and pious martyr St Spivack.