Image of Walstan from the rood screen at St Andrew's Church, Great Ryburgh, Norfolk
|Born||Bawburgh in Norfolk, or Blythburgh in Suffolk|
|Patronage||farms, farmers, farmhands, ranchers and husbandrymen|
Saint Walstan (or Walston) (died 1016) was born either in Bawburgh in Norfolk, or Blythburgh in Suffolk, and because of his life dedicated to farming and the care of farm animals, is the patron saint of farms, farmers, farmhands, ranchers and husbandrymen.
He was born into a wealthy family but when he was only twelve he left his parents' home and travelled to Taverham in Norfolk where he worked as a farm labourer. He died on 30 May 1016, after seeing a vision of an angel while at work scything a hay crop. His body was laid on a cart pulled by two white oxen as he had instructed and the cortege ended up at Bawburgh, where he was buried. At the three points along the journey that the oxen stopped, a spring arose (though only the well at Bawburgh can now be found). By popular demand, he was declared a saint and a small chapel was built off the existing church of St Mary, giving it a new dedication of St Mary and St Walstan. Since then and until the present day St Walstan has been honoured as a special saint of farm workers, farmers and farm animals. Throughout the days of medieval pilgrimage, his shrine was sought by pilgrims from far and wide as well as local farmers and farm labourers.
St Walstan is represented in religious art by a crown and sceptre (generic emblems) and with a scythe in his hand and cattle near him (specific emblems). Icons dating from before the English Reformation occur mostly in Norfolk and Suffolk, but in modern times his cult has extended to Buckinghamshire, Kent and - amazingly - to Rongai in Kenya, where a church was dedicated to St Walstan in 1988.
St Walstan's Day is celebrated each year in Bawburgh when a special Patronal Service takes place on the nearest Sunday to 30 May, his feastdate .
- Bond, Francis (1914). Dedications And Patron Saints Of English Churches Ecclesiastical Symbolism Saints And Their Emblems. Oxford University Press.
- Shortt, L. M. (1914). Lives and legends of English saints. London: Methuen. p. 301.
- Stanton, Richard (1887). A Menology of England and Wales. Burns & Oates. p. 242.
- Twinch, Carol (1995). In Search of St Walstan. ISBN 0-9521499-1-5.
- Twinch, Carol (2004). Saint with the Silver Shoes. ISBN 0-9521499-3-1.
- Legend of St. Walstan
- St. Walstan at the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Norfolk Heritage Explorer - St Walstan's Well at Costessy
- A description of St Mary and St Walstan, Bawburgh, from Norfolk Churches