Today, November 23rd, is St Clement’s Day. Meet Clement:
Ok, so this one isn’t the saint himself. The actual patron saint of sailors and blacksmiths is not four and a half inches tall. He was the third or fourth pope and was martyred by the Romans tying him to an anchor and chucking him in the sea. There are four other Saint Clements – enough for a small party if they all got together – and I shall write more about them next time their days roll around. However, my Clement is not such a fan of the sea and metalwork. He’s knitted, so water and fire don’t really agree with him.
I first came across him in a box of toys donated to the Operation Christmas Child shoebox appeal at my school. Because he was handmade, he didn’t have a European safety label on him so we couldn’t send him with the rest of the toys to the charity. A friend and I were going to give him as a random mascot to our favourite history teacher, and I named him Clement, after Pope Clement VII who refused to allow Henry VIII to get divorced (the period we were studying with said favourite teacher). But once I’d named him…I couldn’t really give him away. We’ve been partners in crime ever since.
Clement is mute, but very knowledgeable and has even appeared as a doodle in my school and uni history notes, giving good natured but snarky asides. He particularly doesn’t like Henry VIII – I don’t think he ever got over the Dissolution of the Monasteries – but is a massive fan of the Venerable Bede and other monastic writers.
He’s fond of travelling, and has accompanied me on various holidays. His favourite places were Florence and Rome. In fact, his little badge is a proper pilgrim badge from the Vatican, and he recently picked up another token from Canterbury Cathedral. Here he is soaking up the sun in San Francesco Monastery, Fiesole:
And he was really happy to find his own street not far from where I used to live in London:
I mean, he looks pretty happy all the time. He’s a happy chappy.
So happy namesake saint’s day, Clement!