It’s a well-known fact that Catholicism has a patron saint for everything: there’s a patron saint for beekeepers, another for clowns, and yet another for STDs. But the patron saint that we and The Field Guide to Drinking in America want to celebrate is perhaps the greatest of them all—St. Arnold, patron saint of brewers and beer.
Like any saint, Arnold has an interesting history. Born circa 580 AD, Arnold became bishop of Metz, in France, in 612. He was an adviser to the king, he was responsible for influential edicts that decreed that hereditary lands were not permanent and that bishops were to be appointed by election, not by the king, he lived out the last years of his life as a hermit, and he is said to be an ancestor of Charlemagne. However, the history of Arnold of Metz gets confusing once Arnold of Soissons is added to the picture. You see, Arnold of Soissons is also a French patron saint of brewers and beers, though his timeline occurs about 500 years after Arnold of Metz’s. Is it just a coincidence that these two men were named similarly and were holy men connected to beers and brewers? Are the two actually the same person, mixed up, confused, and eventually separated into two different people by hundreds of years of retold and reworked history, myth, and religion? We may never know, but regardless, St. Arnold remains synonymous with beer.
One legend claims that Arnold was to beer as Jesus was to wine: one hot summer day, Arnold’s former parishioners were trekking to recover his remains and bring them back to Metz to be buried, but were hot, thirsty, and didn’t have enough supplies (read: beer). They prayed to their late bishop to “give them what they lack,” and, miraculously, their near-empty barrel of beer was refilled enough for that journey with even enough left over to enjoy the next evening. Obviously, this is a saint who has his priorities in order.
St. Arnold’s Feast Day is celebrated on July 18th, and there are many ways for beer-lovers everywhere to pay tribute to this esteemed patron saint.
- You can drink beers from the craft brewery named after him in Texas.
- Attend one of the many beer festivals that will be happening this July 15th-17th weekend, such as the Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest, the Vermont Brewers Festival, or the 4th Annual Feast of St. Arnold Indoor Craft Beer Festival in Chandler, Arizona.
- If you don’t live near any of these festivals or don’t have access to Saint Arnold Brewery’s brews, you can always celebrate at home by yourself or with friends by simply drinking any beer of your choice in honor of the patron saint of beer, or, if you aren’t too much of a beer fan, try mixing up a beer cocktail such as the ones here, or incorporate beer into a delicious dessert!