Thursday, June 03, 2004

Saint Ockwell

Netto Ockwell was born in a disease-ridden swamp south of the Thames in 863 (map). He rose to prominence in 885 after his shirt fell apart during a drinking competition and he preached a fiery sermon on the spot about the importance of low-cost clothes.

Despite having no religious training from the church, or indeed any training at all, he rapidly acquired a following thanks to his vehement and often expletive-laden sermons in the area - mostly on no particular subject other than the audience being "fuckers", which was believed to be an imprecation against the sin of fornication - and his habit of falling into a deep meditative trance at about 8pm every evening until noon the next day. Thanks to his diminutive stature, he acquired the nickname "Little Ockwell" ("Lidl Ockwell" in old English).

Reports of his demise vary. Some of his more ardent supporters claim he was burned at the stake by the church for heresy. Others claim he set himself on fire demonstrating one of the cheap lighters he was attempting to sell. All accounts agree, however, that he miraculously exploded and was consumed by flames within seconds - possibly a byproduct of the enormous quantity of lamp oil he drank.

Although he was never officially beatified by the Vatican, the area became known as "Saint Ockwell's". This became "St. Ockwell" in 1705, and by 1840 was commonly abbreviated to "Stockwell", the name it bears today.


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Related to Saint Reatham, by any chance?

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Blogger Fizzwhizz said...

Not as far as I'm aware: according to my copy of The Rough Guide to Catholicism, Saint Reatham is the patron saint of bricklayers (that's why the district of London that was named after him is so close to Brixton, or Bricks Town as it is was known when it was the home of the medieval builders' merchants' industry).
Reatham Andweep was a Bruges lace-maker who fell into a trance one day in 1387 and produced, while seemingly under the influence of the Holy Spirit, an accurate rendition of the face of Jesus Christ in a fine off-white cotton. The Church of the time denounced him as an heretic and ordered his death; he was forced to brick himself up in the wall of a nearby chocolate shop to escape but unfortunately the owner went on holiday and forgot to un-brick him before he died of starvation. After his death, however, the Sacred Heart-shaped chocolates produced in the shop became the favourites of the Pope and therefore all devout people throughout Europe.
The only logical explanation was that Andweep had blessed them by his martydom, and consequently in 1401 he became a People's Saint as part of the then-Pope's drive to seem more down with what the real people on the street wanted from their religious leaders.
He became the patron saint of bricklayers soon after as the industry tried to persuade customers that invoking his name while building a decorative fireplace would induce similar benefits to the customer's business.

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