Arnold of Soissons

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Arnold of Soissons
St. Arnold of Soissons is often depicted with a bishop's mitre and a mash rake.
Tiegem, Flanders
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 6 January 1120 by Pope Callixtus II
Feast 14 August
Attributes As a bishop, with a mash rake
Patronage hop-pickers, beer brewing

Arnold (Arnoul) of Soissons or Arnold or Arnulf of Oudenburg [1] (ca 1040–1087) is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the patron saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brewers. [2]



Arnold, born in Brabant, the son of a certain Fulbertus [3] was first a career soldier before settling at the Benedictine St. Medard's Abbey, Soissons, France. He spent his first three years as a hermit, but later rose to be abbot of the monastery. His hagiography states that he tried to refuse this honor and flee, but was forced by a wolf [4] to return. He then became a priest and in 1080, bishop of Soissons, another honor that he sought to avoid. When his see was occupied by another bishop, rather than fighting, he took the opportunity to retire from public life, founding the Abbey of St. Peter in Oudenburg. [5]

As abbot in Oudenburg, Arnold brewed beer, as essential in medieval life as water. He encouraged local peasants to drink beer, instead of water, due to its "gift of health". During the process of brewing, the water was boiled and thus, unknown to all, freed of pathogens, making the beer safer to drink. The beer normally consumed at breakfast and during the day at this time in Europe was called small beer, having a very low alcohol content, and containing spent yeast. It is likely that people in the local area normally consumed small beer from the monastery, or made their own small beer at the instructions of Arnold and his fellow monks. During one outbreak of sickness, Arnold advised the local people to avoid consuming water, in favor of beer, which advice effectively saved lives. [6]

One miracle tale says, at the time of an epidemic, rather than stand by while the local people fell ill from drinking water, Arnold had them consume his monastery brews. Because of this, many people in his church survived the plague. [7] This same story is also told of Arnulf or Arnold of Metz, another patron of brewers. There are many depictions of St. Arnold with a mashing rake in his hand, to identify him. He is honoured in July with a parade in Brussels on the "Day of Beer." [8]

Miracles that were reported at his tomb were investigated and approved by a council at Beauvais in 1121; Arnold's relics were translated to the church of Saint Peter, Aldenburg in 1131. [9] St. Arnold's feast day is 14 August. [10]

See also

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  1. Arnold has no connection with Oudenaarde, where several barons bore the name Arnulphus of Oudenaarde.
  2. Mulder-Bakker, Anneke B. (2003). The Invention of Saintliness. Routledge. p. 64. ISBN   978-1-134-49865-9.
  3. "a gentleman of Brabant" according to John McClintock, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature 1889 s.v. "Arnulph (St.)"; "a French nobleman" according to Alban Butler, Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints (1866), s.v. "Arnoul, or Arnuphus, C.".
  4. Arnulf signifies "[noble] eagle-wolf".
  5. At Oudenburg he is known as Arnold of Oudenburg; the abbey was demolished at the time of the French Revolution.
  6. Millar, Rupert. "Beer Saint's Day: Arnold of Soissons" The Drinks Business", August 14, 2015
  7. Gately, Iain (2009). Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. New York: Gotham Books. p. 85. ISBN   978-1-592-40464-3.
  8. DC Beer. Original article written 28/08/2009 Retrieved 25/05/2016
  9. Patron Saints Index: Saint Arnulf of Soissons Archived March 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  10. Patron Saints Index: Saint Arnulf of Soissons Archived March 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine