happy? - May 28
Subject: happy? - May 28|
From: Abby Sale
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:52 AM
5/28: Feast Day of the patron of skiers, Alpinists, etc, St Bernard of Montjoux (died c.5/28/1008; born c.923 - not to be comingled with St. Bernard of Menthon nor confused with St. Bernard of Valeara or of Carinola or of Calvo or of Clairvaux or of Valdeiglesias or of Bagnorea or of Arce or of Aosta nor St. Bernard Due nor St. Bernard degli Uberti)
St. Bernard dogs bear his name. In the 11th century he founded a hospice that has sheltered thousands caught in Alpine snows.
From George Pickow's (you know, the photographer - married to Jean Ritchie) 1957 National Geographic photos & article about the St. Bernard dogs of the Alps. (Full text & fine photos at Clicky)
They regarded me soberly for a moment. Then the largest dog planted two great paws on my chest and licked my face.
"Well! You are honored! " Father Emery said. "This is Barry."
"Barry! Not the one that saved forty people? I thought he lived long ago."
"Forty-one people it was. You mean Barry the First, Barry 'the Lifesaver.' He served here about 150 years ago, and he was the bravest of them all."
I began snapping pictures. An attendant working with the dogs took one look at my cameras and ran off. He returned with a small cask and fastened it around Barry's neck.
I glanced at Father Emery. He smiled. No, he said, the dogs had never carried casks on their missions, not once, so far as anyone at the hospice knew.
This legend, he explained, probably dates back to an artist who drew the original Barry with a cask simply because he thought it would add interest. If so, that artist was right. The public loved the idea and would not be told otherwise.
I couldn't resist and took a picture of a dog with a cask (p 5).
Later at lunch I asked for details of the great Barry's exploits.
"There's a story that the forty-first man he found in the snow was a soldier," Father Emery said.
"He was freezing and befuddled. When he saw Barry leaping toward him, he thought he was a wolf and killed him with his sword.
"But as far as we know, Barry didn't really meet such a sad end. He worked faithfully for twelve years, and when he seemed near the end of his strength the prior sent him to Bern. He was well cared for and lived another two years. He can still be seen in a museum there, stuffed."
I wondered about Barry's famous rescue of the little boy from the icy ledge. How had the dog managed to carry him down?
Father Emery's face lit up with enthusiasm. "Barry kept him warm and licked his face. That woke him up, and he threw his arms around Barry's neck. Barry began to drag him, but gently, you understand. The boy saw Barry needed his help, so he got himself on the animal's back and clasped his hands under his neck."
"Are you sure this really happened?" I persisted.
"The story has been told too often by too many good men to be false," my friend replied. "Details of rescues were rarely written down here, so we have no complete record of the dogs' work. But we all believe that these things are true."
Great! "The story has been told too often by too many good men to be false." I don't think it's ever been better expressed.
Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky
Subject: RE: happy? - May 28|
Date: 28 May 05 - 12:12 PM
AH, yes, the oral tradition alive and well. Nice story. Thanks for posting it. Perhaps it should be a song challenge?