Its been a lifelong mystery to know which saint’s feast day occupied my birthday. But that is a mystery no longer! March 3rd is the feast day of a certain St. Winwaloe (or Winwallus, Wingaloeus, Waloway, Wynolatus, Vinguavally, Vennole, Valois, Ouignoualey, Gweno, Gunnolo, Bennoc, Winwalloc, Guenole, or Guingalois, among other names) who died on that date in 532 AD. Now, since this is the Dark Ages we’re talking about here, there’s more legends about him than facts, but Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopedia agree that he was the son of Fracan, some minor British chief/noble who fled from the Saxons and/or the plague to Brittany, and his mother was named Gwen, with the notable nickname of “the Triple-Breasted” (that part’s from Wikipedia). Winwaloe, according to legend, wanted to go and visit St. Patrick in Ireland, but was warned off by a vision from the saint and instead went on to found the Monastery of Landevennec near the city of Brest, and by all accounts was a good holy man who died in his monastery at a ripe old age. He was mostly venerated in Southern England and Northern France. But that’s not the interesting part. This is:
For some reason, Winwaloe gained the reputation of a “phallic saint” (possibly because one of the French forms of his name was confused with the word gignere, “to beget”). Anyway, he is one of several phallic saints invoked against impotence. Most interestingly, a book in my possession about patron saints of things gives a legend that there was a statue of Winwaloe in Brest carved with an erect member, and that people would carve off a little piece here and there in the hopes that it would remedy the relevant problem. Miraculously, despite centuries of this practice, the, ahem, length of the statue has not diminished. Or so it is said.
See? Isn’t theology fun? And in case you were wondering who the other phallic saints are, here’s a few: St. Ters, Saints Cosmas & Damian, St. Foutin, St. Gilles, & St. Rene. Most seem to be French.