Guinefort, St

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Guinefort, St.

A strange story was recorded by Father Etienne Bourbon, a Dominican who died in 1262. He related that while he was preaching in the diocese of Lyons, many women came to him confessing that they had taken their children to a St. Guinefort. Curious to know what sort of saint it might be whose cult called for confession, Bourbon inquired into the matter and found that Guinefort was a dog!

It was the dog in the well-known fable of the dog and the serpent, wherein a dog is killed under the suspicion that it has slain a child, when in reality it has saved the child from the attack of a serpent. It was this dog-martyr to whose "shrine" the women brought their children.

A similar story was told of a dog named Ganelon whose tomb was in Auvergne, near a fountain. The dog was buried during the reign of Louis le Debonnaire. Two or three centuries later it was found that the waters of the fountain possessed medicinal virtues. Cures were attributed to the unknown occupant of the tombuntil a certain bishop found among the archives of the château the anecdote of the dog Ganelon.