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Saint Guinefort is a very special Saint indeed. The reason for this is Saint Guinefort was the first, and only animal to be canonised, Saint Guinefort is a dog. A Greyhound to be precise.

This loyal dog lived in his master's castle in France, and was a good dog if ever there was. His master's wife has recently given birth to their first child, a boy. One day, while Guinefort's master was out hunting in the forests and woodlands a deadly snake slithered into the child's bed chamber. Guinefort, who was guarding the child fought and killed the snake. During the battle however, the child's cot was knocked over. Guinefort lay down and awaited his master's return, having flung the body of the snake into a corner of the room, the snakes blood still dripping form his mouth.

When Guinefort's master returned to his castle he went to see his son. As he entered the room he cried out in anguish and rage. For what he saw was an upset cot, and blood dripping from the mouth of Guinefort. Assuming that the dog had killed his child he ran him through with his sword and killed Guinefort. At that moment his son began to cry, the body of the snake was found, and the master realised his mistake.

He placed the body of Guinefort in a well and planted a grove of trees around the well to honour the dogs bravery. The locals began to pay homage to the shrine of the dog, and soon Saint Guinfort became the protector of children. Parents believed that passing their children through the boughs of the trees around the well would protect them from disease.

Despite attempts by the Inquisition to quell this belief, the memory of Saint Guinefort lived on, and people still came to worship him right up into the 1940's. I believe that a film was also made in the late eighties about Saint Guinefort and his life as well.

A thoroughly unusual saint indeed.

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