Bavo of Ghent
Saint Bavo with falcon and sword, by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, late 15th century
|Venerated in||Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Attributes||Greaves, other military or aristocratic garb, falcon, sword|
|Patronage||Ghent; Haarlem; Lauwe|
A wild, young aristocrat of Brabant, he contracted a beneficial marriage, and had a daughter through it. He was a soldier who led an undisciplined and disorderly life. Shortly after the death of his wife, Bavo decided to reform after hearing a sermon preached by Saint Amand. Struck by the sermon, which was on the emptiness of material things, Bavo was converted to Christianity at Amand's convent.
For some time thereafter, Bavo joined Amand in the latter's missionary travels throughout France and Flanders. On one occasion, Bavo met a man whom he had sold into slavery years before. Wishing to atone for his earlier deed, Bavo had the man lead him by a chain to the town jail. Bavo built an abbey on his grounds and became a monk. He distributed his belongings to the poor and lived as a recluse, first in a hollow tree and later in a cell in the forest by the Abbey.
He is most often shown in Christian art as a knight with a sword and falcon. The most popular scene is the moment of his conversion, which has many stories attached to it. Because he is so often shown with a falcon, he came to be considered the patron saint of falconry. In medieval Ghent, taxes were paid on Bavo's feast day, and it is for this reason he is often shown holding a purse or money bag.
Several churches are dedicated to him, including:
- Saint Bavo Cathedral, in Ghent
- Sint-Bavokerk and Cathedral of Saint Bavo, both in Haarlem
- Sint-Bavokerk in Heemstede, Lauwe, and Zellik
- Saint Bavo Church and School, in Mishawaka, Indiana
- Sint-Bavokerk in Wilrijk
The conversion of Saint Bavo, Peter Paul Rubens, St Baafs, Ghent.
- Tait, William (1840). Tait's Edinburgh Magazine. W. Tait. p. 298.
- Butler, Alban, The Lives of the Saints, Vol. X,1866
- Saint-Bavo's Cathedral - Ghent Archived February 19, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- St. Bavo's Catholic Church, Mishawaka, Indiana
- "The Artist's Saint Bavo to be Shown for the First Time since its Recent Cleaning and Restoration", Getty Museum, June 3, 2009
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Bavo.|
- (in Italian) San Bavone di Gand
- Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome
- Acta S. Bavonis alias Alloini confessoris, Gandavensium patroni
- St. Bavo at the Christian Iconography web site.
- Vita Bavonis Confessoris Gandavensis (Life of Bavo, Confessor of Ghent, in Latin) in Monumenta Germaniae Historica