Patron saint of wine crushed in a wine press?

While driving along yesterday I listened to a Marketplace report on wine that said in passing that Vincent of Saragossa was the patron saint of wine and that he had been crushed to death in a wine press.

Even allowing for the fact that the Catholic church has some pretty weird practices, I was a little surprised that they would name as a patron saint (whom believers are supposed to ask to intercede with god on their behalf and safely oversee that activity and cause it to prosper) someone who came to a nasty end in that very same endeavor. It would be like making someone who died in a plane crash the patron saint of airline travel. (In case you are curious, the patron saint of air travel is Joseph of Cupertino who could supposedly levitate. Joseph seems like a pretty weird guy in many ways but at least his main claim to fame is appropriate to his role.)

So I looked into it (this is the kind of time-wasting triviality I indulge in) and discovered that there are many patron saints of wine, each responsible for different aspects of its production, though Vincent is the biggie.

The story of Vincent’s death by wine press is not mentioned in this official-looking Catholic site, though he died the usual gory death by torture that Catholic martyrs seem prone to. In fact, there is nothing in his story to indicate a connection with wine at all. So given his thin resume in this area, how did he get the job?

The reasoning is not clear. Some have suggested that perhaps the connection arose because one of the torture instruments used on him was a wine press. Another is the more prosaic one that he became the patron saint of wine because the word ‘vin’ occurs in is name. But there is nothing definitive.

So there you have it, a mystery for the ages.


  1. 'Tis Himself says

    His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent

    An important naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars was fought near Cape St. Vincent. The victorious British admiral, Sir John Jervis, became Lord St. Vincent as a result.

  2. abusedbypenguins says

    Who is the patron saint of marijuana? Patron saint of brandy? Patron saint of either a vodka or gin martini? Patron saint of hash? The catholic church is one long episode of “The Twilight Zone”, too wierd to be considered much less taken seriously. I disrespected the priest so bad in the third grade that he sent me back to the second grade penguin. Three months later I disrespected the penguin so bad they kicked me out of school. My first accomplishment-escaping catholic school for normality in public school.

  3. scotlyn says

    St Colmcille (aka St Columba), who was born not far from where I sit, has the following story told about him:

    Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finnian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter. Columba copied the manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian, intending to keep the copy. Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. The dispute eventually led to the pitched Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561, during which many men were killed. A synod of clerics and scholars threatened to excommunicate him for these deaths, but St. Brendan of Birr spoke on his behalf with the result that he was allowed to go into exile instead. Columba suggested that he would work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert as many people as had been killed in the battle. He exiled himself from Ireland, to return only once, many years later.

    I figure that makes him a worthy patron saint of internet pirates (should any of them wish for divine intercession and safe oversight of their activity).

  4. lordshipmayhem says

    I had not heard of this, either. It’s certainly not on CNN. No mention of the funeral.

    When’s the wake?

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