I don’t like the forecast.


If there’s somethin’ wet in your neighborhood, who ya’ gonna call?

 St. Theodore of Sykeon, that’s who.



When I was reading about the sixth century, I bumped into Theodore. The man lived alone in a cave with only a small hole for air and survived on bread and water. (I can identify. We Catholic-school survivors are all too familiar with the Whitman sampler of extreme mortifications. Yes, we are.)

Picture 601


Theo was kind of a strong-man saint. He had, you might say, weird ascetical practices. (His father was a circus performer. Really.)

Every year from Christmas to Palm Sunday, he suspended himself in a cage in which he could barely stand. Nicknamed the “Iron Eater”, he wrapped himself in an iron breastplate, iron collar, iron girdle, rings, and chains. His ‘holiness’ attracted many disciples, and a huge monastic settlement grew at Sykeon.

Theo-of-SykTheo’s life story (read full text here), written by one of his disciples, is mostly a record of his brow-raising miracles. He helped reconcile many married couples and healed people suffering from leprosy, demonic possession, and pestilence.  And, apparently, weather.

“If a cloud­burst had taken place in any village, or the rivers overflowed their ordinary bed and caused devastation, the sufferers from these calamities went to the holy man in all haste and carried him off to the spot or received a cross at his hands which he had blessed and after fixing it in the spot which had been devastated they never experienced a similar catastrophe again.”



Turns out that Theodore is also the Patron Saint of People Who Endure Damp Rainy Weather. You know, the cluttersome, clattersome stormy kind of weather with thick clouds all around. Cluttery, drawky, plungy are old English words that cover this vast range of weather ~ from wet-rainy-drizzle to the pelting-gusty-rough stuff.



Theo’s neighbors knew the warning signs ~ ducks shook and fluttered their wings on takeoff, young horses rubbed their backs against the ground, sheep bleated and skipped wantonly in the field. If a lamp sparked, if soot fell in the chimney, or swallows flew low ~ well, they knew who to call.  (Today there’s an app for that.)

St. Sykeon’s feast day (April 22) was proclaimed by the Catholic Church to honor the baby name Theodore and encourage folks to name boys born on this day after the bishop/monk/miracle maker.



Are you named Theodore?

Were you named for a saint? (I could have been named Fructuosus.)

what feast day were you born on?  Find out here.

Toni 5/24/14


  1. I have never seen sheep skipping wantonly in the fields. I just could not resist commenting on that vision. Loved the whole piece.


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