April 30th – The Festival of the Wooden Saint

In the Church of the Holy Host on Ranaclois hill is a limewood statue that, until relatively recently, was unnoticed, sat in a dusty corner. As far as anyone knows it had always been there, at least since it lost its face at some point in its history. Because of the lack of a face, nobody is quite sure who it is supposed to represent, although given the long robes it wears, it is presumably a saint. Since 1978 it has been removed from its corner and placed in a more prominent position, where it can be properly venerated according to its newfound fame.

There are a large number of faithful followers of the Chastise Church who will come to the Church today, usually those who are suffering from some kind of personal crisis. There are also a number of less faithful followers who visit the statue too, hoping that their faith may be restored, as was the case with Jerman Enholm, a former caretaker of the Church of the Holy Host who sadly died three years ago, and was responsible for today’s festival.

Like many of those who visit the statue today, Enholm was going through some tough times. His wife had left him for another man, and his daughter had been struck with a mysterious disease that had caused her to slip into a coma. Enholm had always been a pious man, and he looked up to each saint of the Host that he attended each day with supplication in his eyes and heart. He spent long hours praying for his daughter, and wondering why the universe would be so unkind to a pious man like him. Slowly he began to lose all care for his work; the statues of the saints went uncleaned and he shambled around the church without purpose. The only routine in his life became the trips to the hospital to see his daughter.

It was then, according to Enholm and now the annals of the Chastise Church itself, that a miracle happened. Enholm was sat in a dusty corner of the Church, hunched over and crying as he was wont to do in those dark days. He had been sat there watching a patch of light creep towards him across the stone floor, barely noticing what he was seeing for the misery before him. As the light touched his toes, a hand quietly rested on his shoulder, and his tears instantly dried. A sense of hope filled him for the first time in years. He looked up at the statue that stood over him, still holding his shoulder lightly, and realised that he must be at the hospital. He was just in time to see his daughter awaken when he arrived.

It was on this day in 1978 that the miracle apparently occurred, and therefore it is today that the followers gather to pray before and seek some sign of life from the statue, which stands bolt upright, its arms at its sides. To aid in their hopes of a return of faith, the choir and organmaster perform uplifting music throughout the day, and a warm breeze is directed at the space before the statue from a quiet machine in the rafters. A special service is held on the subject of redemption and overcoming adversity.

Beneath the statue Enholm has now been buried, and there was some talk of re-carving the statue’s face in his likeness, but ultimately this idea was scrapped. Whilst the Church authorities still have no idea which saint performed the supposed miracle, they suppose that it doesn’t matter too much; the universe knows so the prayers should find their way to the right person eventually. This year, at the end of the service, a large wall hanging will be revealed that has been commissioned to depict the moment of the miracle.

Before he died, the elderly Enholm would come to the Church every day, even when he retired. He was aided by his daughter as he became increasingly frail, and they would sit together in the pews as he pointed to each saint of the Holy Host in turn, reciting their names and deeds.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Broken Mirror
  • Cut the Branches Clean for God’s Perching Angels; a Day of Horticultural Worship
  • The Feast of April