February 2006

St. Bavo

St. Bavo © Aris Dervis

© Aris Dervis 2006


St. Bavo

Feast Day October 1st

Bavo was born in Brabant in 589. His youth was one of flamboyant selfishness. Whenever he was strapped for cash he would sell a servant into serfdom. His life changed when his beloved wife died. He heard a sermon preached by St. Amand and was moved to conversion. He gave all his money to the poor and moved into a monastery. Not satisfied with that level of austerity, he relocated to a hollow tree trunk and lived as a hermit, dining on water and vegetables. As pennance for selling a servant into serfdom he made the man lead him by a chain into common lockup.

St. Bavo's Basilica, in the beautiful town of Haarlem, Netherlands, is a fascinating place. The floor is composed of graves. Some of the more famous residents include the tallest man in the town, a dwarf who was killed when the game he invented (dwarf tossing) went awry, and a child who was known to hit his mother. After the child was buried, his hand grew out of the grave and had to be covered by a copper plate.

Among the amusements in the Basilica is the famous Christian Muller organ built between 1735-1738. It has been played by Mendelssohn, Handel, and a ten year old Mozart in 1766.

St. Bavo is available as a framed print, t-shirt, candle, and greeting card. It's a perfect gift for all the musicians in your life.