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Re: Patron saints, guilds

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  • Chris Laning
    ... Well, sort of. As I understand it, there were basically two kinds of guilds (with shadings and overlaps and so forth). Craft guilds were associations of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2004
      Gregory wrote:
      >But you left off the "Huh?" option -- guild? social guild? Never run
      >into that in the SCA, and it's certainly not what a guild was in
      >period.

      Well, sort of. As I understand it, there were basically two kinds of guilds (with shadings and overlaps and so forth).

      Craft guilds were associations of professionals -- a "corporate body" formed to regulate (or attempt to regulate) trade. Often they had a monopoly (at least locally) and required people in their trade to become guild members in order to operate. They were also concerned with quality control, and with maintaining their status by restricting the number of apprentices and new members they would accept. If I understand correctly, they often did have a patron saint (St. Fiacre for cap knitters, for instance) but religion wasn't their main pursuit.

      Parish guilds, on the other hand, were primarily socio-religious associations. Many were sort of self-insurance cooperatives -- members contributed to a common fund, and assisted members who were disabled, widowed, et cetera. Some became what modern cynics refer to as "happy death societies," whose main purpose was to pray for the souls of dead members. Some were status symbols because they only accepted people of certain social status or wealth -- the "best people" of the town. Some served as fund-raising organizations for their churches, with money going towards poor relief, building maintenance, or votive lights. For many, the major activity seems to have been an annual religious procession and feast -- a chance to wear their best clothes, demonstrate solidarity, gain spiritual merit and publicity. (Rosary societies, by the way, were something of an exception because they usually didn't cost anything to join and accepted both women and men.)

      As far as I know, essentially all parish guilds had religious patrons (most often saints, but sometimes "mysteries" such as the Precious Blood of Christ or the Holy Trinity). These were chosen either because they were popular (such as St. Katherine of Alexandria) or because the saint's feast day occurred at a convenient time of year for the annual festival.

      I would expect that some were highly devoted to their saints and others merely used the saint's name and emblem as a sort of logo -- which is what I'd expect a modern SCA guild to do.

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      0 Chris Laning
      | <claning@...>
      + Davis, California
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