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September 18.

St. Thomas, Abp. of Valentia, A. D. 1555. St. Methodius, Bp. of Tyre, A. D. 311. St. Ferreol, A. D. 304. St. Joseph, of Cupertino, A. D. 1663.

St. Ferreol.

He was "a tribune or colonel," Butler says, at Vienne in France, and imprisoned on suspicion of being a christian, which he verified by refusing to sacrifice according to the religion of the country, whereupon being scourged and laid in a dungeon, on the third day his chains fell off his hands and legs, and he swam over the Rhone. It appears that the miraculous chain-falling was ineffectual, for he was discovered and beheaded near the river.

The anniversary of this saint and martyr is celebrated at Marseilles with great pomp. The houses are decorated with streamers to the very tops; and the public way is crossed by cords, on which are suspended numberless flags of various colours. The ships are always ornamented with flags and streamers. The procession passes under several arches, hung with boughs, before it stops at the altars or resting-places, which are covered with flowers: every thing concurs to give to this solemnity an air of cheerfulness. The eye dwells with pleasure on the garlands of beautiful flowers, the green boughs, and the emblem of the divinity contained in the flags of the procession. The attendants are extremely numerous; every gardener carries his wax taper, ornamented with the most rare and beautiful flowers; he has also the vegetables and fruits with which heaven had blessed his labour, and sometimes he bears some nests of birds.

The butchers also make a part of this procession, clothed in long tunics, and with a hat à la Henri IV. armed with a hatchet or cleaver; they lead a fat ox dressed with garlands and ribands, and with gilt horns, like the ox at the carnival: his back is covered with a carpet, on which sits a pretty child, dressed as St. John the Baptist. During the whole week which precedes the festival, the butchers lead about this animal: they first take him to the police, where they pay a duty, and then their collection begins, which is very productive: every one wishes to have the animal in his house; and it is a prevailing superstition among the people, that they shall have good luck throughout the year if this beast leave any trace of his visit, however dirty it may be. The ox is killed on the day after the festival. The child generally lives but a short time: exhausted by the fatigue which he has suffered, and by the caresses which he has received, and sickened by the sweetmeats with which has been crammed, he languishes, and often falls a victim.

A number of young girls, clothed in white, their heads covered with veils, adorned with flowers, and girded with ribands of a uniform colour are next in the procession. Children, habited in different manners, recal the ancient "mysteries." Several young women are dressed as nuns; these are St. Ursula, St. Rosalia, St. Agnes, St. Teresa, &c. The handsomest are clothed as Magdalens; with their hair dishevelled on their lovely faces, they look with an air of contrition on a crucifix which they hold in the hand: others appear in the habit of the Sœurs de la Charité, whose whole time is devoted to the service of the sick. Young boys fill other parts, such as angels, abbots, monks; among whom may be distinguished St. Francis, St. Bruno, St. Anthony, &c. In the midst of the shepherds marches the little St. John, but half covered with a sheep's skin, like the picture of his precursor; he leads a lamb decked with ribands, a symbol of the saviour who offered himself for us, and died for the remission of our sins. The streets are strewed with flowers; numerous choristers carry baskets full of roses and yellow broom, which they throw, on a given signal, before the host or holy sacrament: they strew some of these on the ladies who sit in rows to see the procession; these also have baskets of flowers on their knees, which they offer to the host; they amuse themselves with covering the young virgins and little saints with the flowers. The sweet scents of the roses, the cassia, the jessamine, the orange, and the tuberose, mingled with the odour of the incense, almost overpower the senses. The procession proceeds to the port, and it is there that the ceremony presents a sublime character: the people fill the quays; all the decks are manned with seamen, dressed in their best blue jackets, their heads uncovered, and their red caps in their hands. All bend the knee to the God of the Universe: the seamen stretch out their hands towards the prelate, who, placed under a canopy, gives the benediction: the most profound silence reigns among this immense crowd. The benediction received, every one rises instantaneously; the bells begin to ring, the music plays, and the whole train takes the road to the temple from which they came.* [1]


Pendulous Starwort. Aster pendulus.
Dedicated to St. Thomas, of Villanova.

Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Times Telescope, 1819; from Coxe's Gentleman's Guide through France. [return]