The Saint Dunstan Story:

The story of Saint Dunstan begins in Baltonsborough, England (near Glastonbury) in the tenth century anno Domini (circa 910). There was born to a noble family a boy who was named Dunstan. He became a blacksmith. One day, while in his smithy, Dunstan was approached by a man with cloven hooves instead of normal feet, who asked to have his feet shod with horseshoes. Dunstan, being a holy man, realised that his customer was actually Satan in disguise! (Probably a Democrat as well.) Cleverly, Dunstan said that he would shoe the devil, but first he had to chain him to the wall. The devil agreed to this, but Dunstan made the shoeing process so painful that Satan begged for mercy. Dunstan, however, refused to let him go until he swore a solemn oath never to enter a house with a horseshoe nailed above the door.

This led to a prayer that still exists in parts of Ireland: "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - nail the devil to a post!"

When hanging your horseshoe, be sure to do it properly. The open end (the heel) should point upwards, lest the luck drain out.

Back to Dunstan. Dunstan became a Benedictine monk around 934, and was ordained be his uncle, Saint Alpshege the bishop of Winchester, around 939. After a time as a hermit, Dunstan was called to the royal court of King Edmund, who made him abbot of Glastonbury Abbey in 943. He developed the Abbey into a centre of learning while revitalising other monastaries in the area. He became an advisor to Edred after Edmund was murdered. Dunstan began a programme to reform all the monastaries in the realm. He also became involved in politics, and angered the West Saxon nobles for criticising their immorality. When Edwy succeeded his uncle Edred, he became Dunstan's bitter enemy because Dunstan criticised his scandalous lifestyle. Edwy banished Dunstan, but after a few years of civil strife in England put Edgar the Peaceful on the throne of England, he appointed Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury in 959. Edgar delayed his own coronation for almost all of his reign until he could be crowned by Dunstan at Bath. After Edgar died, Dunstan helped elect his successor, King Edward the Martyr. When he died shortly thereafter, Dunstan helped elect Ethelred II (called the Unready) king. Under Ethelred, Dunstan's influence declined, and he quit with politics and returned to Canterbury to teach at the cathedral school and died there on 19 May, 988.

Dunstan was a musician (he composed several hymns, including Kyrie Rex spendens), was a skilled metalworker, and illuminated manuscripts.

He is the patron saint of blacksmiths, armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, jewelers, and musicians.

His feast day is on 19 May.

For another miracle by Saint Dunstan, click here for the 6 May Miracle of the Day Page.

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