Saints of the Day – 25 October – St Crispin & Crispian – Martyrs – tortured and beheaded c 286 at Rome, Italy in the reign of Diocletian. Patronages – cobblers; curriers; glove makers; lace makers; lace workers; leather workers; saddle makers; saddlers; shoemakers; tanners; weavers, San Crispin, San Pablo City, Philippines. Attributes -depicted holding shoes.
Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian fled persecution for their faith, ending up at Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls whilst making shoes by night. While it is stated that they were twin brothers, that has not been positively proved.
They earned enough by their trade to support themselves and also to aid the poor. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and thrown into the river with millstones around their necks. Though they survived, they were beheaded by the Emperor c 285-286.
An alternative account gives them to be sons of a noble Romano-Briton family who lived in Canterbury, following their father’s murder for displeasing the Roman Emperor. As they were approaching maturity their mother sent them to London to seek apprenticeship and to avoid coming to the attention of their father’s killer. Travelling there, the brothers came across a shoemaker’s workshop at Faversham and decided to travel no further and stayed in Faversham. This account fails to explain how the brothers came to be venerated and martyred.
The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is 25 October. Although this feast was removed from the Roman Catholic Church’s universal liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council, the two saints are still commemorated on that day in the most recent edition of the Roman Church’s martyrology.
In the sixth century a stately basilica was erected at Soissons over the graves of these saints and St Eligius, a famous goldsmith, made a costly shrine for the head of St. Crispinian.
Saint Crispin is often associated with the Battle of Agincourt since the battle was fought on his feastday. It has been immortalised by Shakespeare’s St Crispin’s Day Speech from his play Henry V. Also, for the Midsummer’s Day Festival in the third act of Die Meistersinger, Wagner has the shoemakers’ guild enter singing a song of praise to St Crispin.
A plaque at Faversham commemorates their association with the town. They are also commemorated in the name of the old pub “Crispin and Crispianus” at Strood.