HOLY HOMEWORK

The Patron Saint of Coffee

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Our Catholic faith encourages us to praise, to admire, and above all to try our best to imitate the great saints and souls who have gone before us. November 1 and 2 are two days of the year when we especially focus on these excellent men and women, reviewing their histories, admiring their perseverance, and praying for their intercession and their help in our efforts to do good, avoid evil, and observe the commandments for love of God and neighbor.

There are several popular saints who, over the years, have become household names. Examples include Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, Anthony of Padua, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Patrick, Teresa of Avila, Gabriel, Michael, Christopher, Jude and Valentine, just to mention a few.

However, there are other saints who are not well known and whose history has not been meticulously recorded. Nevertheless, they can be just the inspiration we need or become trusted companions we can depend upon as we go about our everyday schedule. One such obscure individual is Saint Drogo of Sebourg, the patron saint of coffee brewers. And this may even shock Dunkin’ Donuts, Maxwell House and Starbucks: the man never drank a drop of coffee in his life!

He was born in the Flanders region of Belgium on March 14, 1105 and lived until age 81 despite a life-long battle with illnesses. He was buried in Sebourg, a peaceful commune in northern France, on April 16, 1186, which is his feast day.

St. Drogo came into the world an orphan. His father died shortly before Drogo was born and his mother died of complications during childbirth. Relatives raised him until he was able to support himself as a shepherd. At that time, shepherding provided a sustainable income because wool was essential for the growing textile trade and sheepskin was the preferred parchment for publishing documents, especially diplomas. This isolated lifestyle also afforded Drogo frequent opportunities for prayer and meditation. Whatever wages he earned he immediately gave to the poor and most abandoned.

His austere regime attracted many people to seek his advice and spiritual counsel. During the last of his several pilgrimages to Rome he contracted a disfiguring malady and was forced to live in a secluded room attached to the local church. This tiny cubical had one window through which he could receive Holy Communion, donations of barley to eat and a small bowl of warm water to drink, which may explain how he became the patron saint of coffee drinkers today.

For Holy Homework: As we consider the three solitary stages of St. Drogo’s life: shepherd, pilgrim and contemplative, let’s slowly sip a cup of warm water, devoid of any flavor from coffee, tea or even a wedge of lemon. And, with eyes closed against cellphone texts, wall clocks, passersby or any of the other external stimulations that typically bombard us, let’s devote 15 minutes exclusively to God as St. Drogo often did. We can conclude this all-too-brief escape from the busy bustle of our daily routine with a prayer of thanksgiving for this respite of non-hyper calm ironically inspired by the patron saint of caffeine.

 

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