The Real Old-Time Religion: Magic, Superstition, and the Challenge to Fundamentalism

Leah Mickens

One of the most curious inhabitants of the Church Trium­phant is Saint Guinefort of Lyons. According to legend, Guinefort was in the employ of a French knight in the mid-thirteenth century and was looking after his master’s infant son while the master went on a hunting trip. When the knight returned, he saw Guinefort covered in blood and the cradle overturned. Convinced that Guinefort had killed his son, the knight ran his sword through his unfortunate servant.

As soon as Guinefort died, the knight heard the sound of a baby crying. He turned over the cradle, saw his son near the body of a dead viper, and realized that Guinefort had saved the baby from the snake. Out of remorse, the knight buried Guinefort with honors in an unused well. Miracles then occurred there that were immediately attributed to his intercession, especially regarding requests pertaining to the protection of infants.

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